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0  •       l\  JLHsk*'*"' 

MA*K~,  J*  ***• 


THE    MASTER    AS    I    SAW    HIM 






AS    I    SAW    HIM 









All  rights  reserved 

jtohttafrm  t0 

In  sending  out  into  the  world  this  book — 
the  tribute  of  her  love  and  gratitude  to 
her  Guru — Nivedita  has  the  blessings 
and  good  wishes  of  all  his  brothers. 

Bellur  Math 
Feb.  ist.  1910.  SARADANANDA, 





I.  THE  SWAMI  IN  LONDON.    1895     .          .  -4 

II.  THE  SWAMI  IN  LONDON.    1896     .          .          .          -22 





VI.  THE  AWAKENER  OF  SOULS  ....    128 

VII.  FLASHES  FROM  THE  BEACON  FIRE       .  .  .    14° 

VIII.  AMARNATH  .  .  .  .  •  •  •    1 53 


X.  CALCUTTA  AND  THE  HOLY  WOMEN     .  .  .177 


XII.  HALF-WAY  ACROSS  THE  WORLD  .  .  .   22O 


XIV.  PAST  AND  FUTURE  IN  INDIA        ....   246 


XV.  THE  SWAMI  ON  HINDUISM  ....   257 



WHOLE 289 




XX.      WOMAN  AND  THE  PEOPLE  ....      355 


XXII.      MONASTICISM  AND  MARRIAGE  ....      406 


XXIV.      HIS  TEACHING  ABOUT  DEATH     ....      448 

XXV.      SUPER-CONSCIOUSNESS  .          .          .          -475 

XXVI.       THE  PASSING  OF  THE  SWAMI      ....      497 

XXVII       THE  END 509 



NOV.  1 6,  1895 


NOV.  23,  1895. 
[  SEE  CHAPTER   I.      Ante.  ] 


IOTH  AND  I7TH,  1900. 


AFTERNOON,  JUNE  24TH,  1 900. 

[  SEE  CHAPTER    1 6.      Ante  ] 

64-1  &  64-2  SUKEA'S  STREET,  CALCUTTA. 


FROM  the  close  of  the  era  of  the  Bud- 
dhist Missions,  until  the  day  when,  as  a 
yellow-clad  Sannyasin,  the  Swami  Viveka- 
nanda  stood  on  the  platform  of  the  Parlia- 
ment of  Religions  in  the  Chicago  Exhibi- 
tion of  1893,  Hinduism  had  not  thought  of 
herself  as  a  missionary  faith.  Her  profes- 
sional teachers,  the  Brahmins,  being  citizens 
and  householders,  formed  a  part  of  Hindu 
society  itself  and  as  such  were  held  to  be 
debarred  from  crossing  the  seas.  And  her 
wandering  Sadhus, — who  are,  in  the  highest 
cases,  as  much  above  the  born  Brahmin  in 
authority,  as  saint  or  incarnation  may 
be  above  priest  or  scholar, — had  simply 
not  thought  of  putting  their  freedom  to  such 
use.  Nor  did  the  Swami  Vivekananda 


appear  at  the  doors  of  Chicago  with  any 
credentials.  He  had  been  sent  across  the 
Pacific  Ocean,  as  he  might  have  wandered 
from  one  Indian  village  to  another,  by  the 
eargerness  and  faith  of  a  few  disciples  in 
Madras.  And  with  American  hospitality 
and  frankness  he  was  welcomed,  and  accord- 
ed an  opportunity  of  speaking.  In  his  case, 
as  in  that  of  the  Buddhist  missionaries,  the 
impelling  force  that  drove  him  out  to  foreign 
lands  was  the  great  personality  of  One  at 
whose  feet  he  had  sat,  and  whose  life  he  had 
shared,  for  many  years.  Yet,  in  the  West, 
he  spoke  of  no  personal  teacher,  he  gave  the 
message  of  no  limited  sect.  "The  religious 
ideas  of  the  Hindus"  were  his  theme  at 
Chicago ;  and  similarly,  thereafter,  it  was 
those  elements  which  were  common  to,  and 
characteristic  of,  orthodox  Hinduism  in  all 
its  parts,  that  formed  the  burden  of  his  teach- 
ing. Thus,  for  the  first  time  in  history, 
Hinduism  itself  formed  the  subject  of  the 


generalisations    of    a    Hindu   mind   of    the 
highest  order. 

The  Swami  remained  in  America  until 
August  of  the  year  1895,  when  he  came  to 
-Europe  for  the  first  time.  In  September  he 
found  his  way  to  England,  and  a  month  or 
so  later,  he  began  teaching  in  London. 


IN  LONDON,   1895. 

It  is  strange  to  remember,  and  yet  it  was 
surely  my  good  fortune,  that  though  I  heard 
the  teachings  of  my  Master,  the  Swami 
Vivekananda,  on  both  the  occasions  of  his 
visits  to  England,  in  1895  an<^  1896,  I  yet 
knew  little  or  nothing  of  him  in  private  life, 
until  I  came  to  India,  in  the  early  days  of 
1898.  For  as  the  fruit  of  this  want  of  ex- 
perience I  have  it,  that  at  each  step  of  his- 
self-revelation  as  a  personality,  my  Master 
stands  out  in  my  memory  against  his  proper 
background,  of  Indian  forest,  city,  and  high- 
way,— an  Eastern  teacher  in  an  Eastern 
world.  Even  in  far  a- way  London  indeed, 
the  first  time  I  saw  him,  the  occasion  must 
have  stirred  in  his  mind,  as  it  does  in  mine, 
recalling  it  now,  a  host  of  associations  con- 
nected with  his  own  sun-steeped  land.  The 


-time  was  a  cold  Sunday  afternoon  in  Novem- 
ber, and  the  place,  it  is  true,  a  West-end  draw- 
ing room.  But  he  was  seated,  facing  a  half- 
circle  of  listeners,  with  the  fire  on  the 
hearth  behind  him,  and  as  he  answered 
question  after  question,  breaking  now  and 
then  into  the  chanting  of  some  Sanskrit  text 
in  illustration  of  his  reply,  the  scene  must 
have  appeared  to  him,  while  twilight  passed 
into  darkness,  only  as  a  curious  variant  upon 
the  Indian  garden,  or  on  the  group  of  hearers 
gathered  at  sundown  round  the  Sadhu  who 
sits  beside  the  well,  or  under  the  tree  out- 
side the  village-bounds.  Never  again  in 
England  did  I  see  the  Swami,  as  a  teacher, 
in  such  simple  fashion.  Later,  he  was  al- 
ways lecturing,  or  the  questions  he  answer- 
ed were  put  with  formality  by  members  of 
larger  audiences.  Only  this  first  time  we 
were  but  fifteen  or  sixteen  guests,  intimate 
friends,  many  of  us,  and  he  sat  amongst  us, 
in  his  crimson  robe  and  girdle,  as  one 


bringing  us  news  from  a  far  land,  with  a  curious 
habit  of  saying  now  and  again  "Shiva ! 
Shiva !"  and  wearing  that  look  of  mingled 
gentleness  and  loftiness,  that  one  sees  on  the 
faces  of  those  who  live  much  in  meditation, 
that  look,  perhaps,  that  Raphael  has  painted 
for  us,  on  the  brow  of  the  Sistine  Child. 

That  afternoon  is  now  ten  years  ago,  and; 
fragments  only  of  the  talk  come  back  to  me. 
But  never  to  be  forgotten  are  the  Sanskrit 
verses  that  he  chanted  for  us,  in  those 
wonderful  Eastern  tones,  at  once  so  reminis- 
cent of,  and  yet  so  different  from,  the  Gre- 
gorian music  of  our  own  churches. 

He  was  quite  willing  to  answer  a  personal 
question,  and  readily  explained,  in  reply  to- 
some  enquiry  that  he  was  in  the  West,  be- 
cause he  believed  that  the  time  had  come, 
when  nations  were  to  exchange  their  ideals, 
as  they  were  already  exchanging  the  commo- 
dities of  the  market.  From  this  point  on- 
wards, the  talk  was  easy.  He  was  elucidat- 


ing  the  idea  of  the  Eastern  Pantheism,  pictur- 
ing the  various  sense-impressions  as  but  so 
many  different  modes  of  the  manifestation  of 
One,  and  he  quoted  from  the  Gita  and  then 
translated  into  English:  "All  these  are  thread- 
ed upon  Me,  as  pearls  upon  a  string." 

He  told  us  that  love  was  recognised  in 
Hinduism  as  in  Christianity,  as  the  highest 
religious  emotion. 

And  he  told  us, — a  thing  that  struck  me 
very  much,  leading  me  during  the  following 
winter  to  quite  new  lines  of  observation, — 
that  both  the  mind  and  the  body  were  regard- 
ed by  Hindus  as  moved  and  dominated  by  a 
third,  called  the  Self. 

He  was  describing  the  difference  between 
Buddhism  and  Hinduism,  and  I  remember 
the  quiet  words,  "the  Buddhists  accepted 
the  report  of  the  senses." 

In  this  respect  then,  Buddhism  must  have 
been  in  strong  contrast  with  modern  agnos- 
ticism, whose  fundamental  suspicion  as  to 


the  subjective  illusion  of  the  senses, — and 
therefore  of  all  inference — would  surely  bring 
it  more  into  line  with  Hinduism. 

I  remember  that  he  objected  to  the  word 
"faith,"  insisting  on  "realisation"  instead; 
and  speaking  of  sects,  he  quoted  an  Indian 
proverb,  "  It  is  well  to  be  born  in  a  church, 
but  it  is  terrible  to  die  there.  " 

I  think  that  the  doctrine  of  Re-incarnation 
was  probably  touched  upon  in  this  talk.  I 
imagine  that  he  spoke  of  Karma,  Bhakti, 
Jnana,  as  the  three  paths  of  the  soul.  I 
know  he  dwelt  for  a  while  on  the  infinite 
power  of  man.  And  he  declared  the  one 
message  of  all  religions  to  lie  in  the  call  to 

There  was  a  word  to  the  effect  that  priests 
and  temples  were  .not  associated  in  India 
with  the  highest  kind  of  religion  :  and  the 
statement  that  the  desire  to  reach  Heaven 
was  in  that  country  regarded,  by  the 
religious  people ,  "as  a  little  vulgar." 



He  must  have  made  some  statement  of 
the  ideal  of  the  freedom  of  the  soul,  which 
brought  it  into  apparent  conflict  with  our 
Western  conception  of  the  service  of  hu- 
manity, as  the  goal  of  the  individual.  For 
I  remember  very  clearly  that  I  heard  him 
use  that  word  "society"  for  the  first  time 
that  afternoon,  in  the  sense  that  I  have 
never  been  quite  sure  of  having  fully  under- 
stood. He  had,  as  I  suppose,  stated  the  ideal, 
and  he  hastened  to  anticipate  our  opposi- 
tion. "You  will  say/'  he  said,  "that  this  does 
not  benefit  society.  But  before  this  objec- 
tion can  be  admitted  you  will  first  have  to 
prove  that  the  maintenance  of  society  is  an 
object  in  itself." 

At  the  time,  I  understood  him  to  mean 
'humanity'  by  'society,'  and  to  be  preaching 
the  ultimate  futility  of  the  world,  and  there- 
fore of  the  work  done  to  aid  it.  Was  this 
his  meaning  ?  In  that  case,  how  is  one 
*o  reconcile  it  with  the  fact  that  the  service 


of  humanity  was  always  his  whole  hope  ?' 
Or  was  he  merely  stating  an  idea,  and 
standing  aside  to  give  it  its  full  value  ?  Or 
was  his  word  'society,'  again,  only  a  faulty 
translation  of  the  curious  Eastern  word 
Samaj,  coloured,  as  that  is,  with  theocratic 
associations,  and  meaning  something  which 
includes  amongst  other  things,  our  idea  of  the 
church  ? 

He  touched  on  the  question  of  his  own 
position,  as  a  wandering  teacher,  and  ex- 
pressed the  Indian  diffidence  with  regard 
to  religious  organisation,  or,  as  some 
one  expresses  it,  'with  regard  to  a  faith  that 
ends  in  a  church.'  "We  believe,"  he  said, 
"that  organisation  always  breeds  new  evils." 

He  prophesied  that  certain  religious 
developments  then  much  in  vogue  in  the 
West  would  speedily  die,  owing  to  love  of 
money.  And  he  declared  that  "Man  pro- 
ceeds from  truth  to  truth,  and  not  from  error 
to  truth." 



This  was  indeed  the  master-thought 
which  he  continually  approached  from  di- 
fferent points  of  view,  the  equal  truth  of  all 
religions,  and  the  impossibility  for  us,  of 
criticising  any  of  the  Divine  Incarnations, 
since  all  were  equally  forth-shinings  of  the 
One.  And  here  he  quoted  that  greatest 
of  all  verses  of  the  Gita  :  "Whenever  reli- 
gion decays  and  irreligion  prevails,  then  I 
manifest  Myself.  For  the  protection  of  the  / 
good,  for  the  destruction  of  the  evil,  for  the 
firm  establishment  of  the  truth,  I  AM  BORN 


We  were  not  very  orthodox,  or  open  to 
belief,  we  who  had  come  to  meet  the  Hindir 
Yogi,  as  he  was  called  in  London  at  that 
time.  The  white-haired  lady,  with  the  his- 
toric name,  who  sat  on  the  Swami's  left,  and 
took  the  lead  in  questioning  him,  with  such 
exquisiteness  of  courtesy,  was,  perhaps,  the 
least  uncoventional  of  the  group  in  matters 
of  belief,  and  she  had  been  a  friend  and 

1 1 


disciple  of  Frederick  Denison  Maurice.  Our 
liostess  and  one  or  two  others  were  interested 
in  those  modern  movements  which  have  made 
of  an  extended  psychology  the  centre  of  a 
faith.  But  most  of  us  had,  I  incline  to  think, 
been  singled  out  for  the  afternoon's  hospita- 
lity, on  the  very  score  of  our  unwillingness 
to  believe,  for  the  difficulty  of  convincing  us 
of  the  credibility  of  religious  propaganda  in 

Only  this  habit,  born  of  the  constant 
need  of  protecting  the  judgment  against  ill- 
considered  enthusiasm,  can,  as  I  now  think, 
furnish  any  excuse  for  the  coldness  and  pride 
with  which  we  al!  gave  our  private  verdicts 
on  the  speaker  at  the  end  of  our  visit.  "It 
was  not  new,"  was  our  accusation,  as  one  by 
one  we  spoke  with  our  host  and  hostess 
before  leaving.  All  these  things  had  been 
said  before. 

For  my  own  part,  however,  as  I  went 
about  the  tasks  of  that  week,  it  dawned  on 



me  slowly  that  it  was  not  only  ungenerous, 
it  was  also  unjust,  to  dismiss  in  such  fashion 
the  message  of  a  new  mind  and  a  strange  cul- 
ture. It  occurred  to  me  that  though  each 
separate  dictum  might  find  its  echo  or  its 
fellow  amongst  things  already  heard  or 
already  thought,  yet  it  had  never  before 
fallen  to  my  lot  to  meet  with  a  thinker  who^ 
in  one  short  hour  had  been  able  to  express 
all  that  I  had  hitherto  regarded  as  highest 
and  best.  I  therefore  took  the  only  two 'op- 
portunities that  remained  to  me,  of  hearing 
the  Swami  lecture,  while  he  was  still  in-. 

The  feeling  that  great  music  wakes  in  us, 
grows  and  deepens  with  its  repetition.  And 
similarly,  as  I  read  over  the  notes  of  those 
two  lectures  now,  they  seem  to  me  much 
more  wonderful  than  they  did  then.  For 
there  was  a  quality  of  blindness  in  the 
attitude  I  presented  to  my  Master,  that  I 
can  never  sufficiently  regret.  When  he  said 


"The  universe  is  like  a  cobweb  and  minds 

-are  the  spiders  ;    for  mind  is  one  as  well  as 

many" :     he    was    simply     talking    beyond 

'iny  comprehension.     I   noted  what  he  said, 

was    interested    in    it,    but    could   pass    no 

judgment  upon  it,  much  less  accept  it.     And 

this     statement     describes     more     or    less 

-accurately  the   whole  of    my  relation  to  his 

system  of    teaching,   even   in  the  following 

year,    when    I    had    listened   to   a   season's 

lectures  ;    even,  perhaps,    on  the  day  when 

I  landed  in  India. 

There  were  many  points  in  the  Swami's 
teachings  of  which  one  could  see  the  truth 
at  once.  The  doctrine  that  while  no  religion 
was  true  in  the  way  commonly  claimed,  yet 
-all  were  equally  true  in  a  very  real  way, 
was  one  that  commanded  the  immediate 
assent  of  some  of  us.  When  he  said  that 
'God,  really  Impersonal,  seen  through  the 
mists  of  sense  became  Personal,  one  was 
.awed  and  touched  by  the  beauty  of  the 


thought.  When  he  said  that  the  spirit 
behind  an  act  was  more  powerful  than  the 
act  itself,  or  when  he  commended  vegetaria- 
nism, it  was  possible  to  experiment.  But  his 
system  as  a  whole,  I,  for  one,  viewed  with 
suspicion,  as  forming  only  another  of  those 
theologies  which  if  a  man  should  begin 
by  accepting,  he  would  surely  end  by  trans- 
cending and  rejecting.  And  one  shrinks 
from  the  pain  and  humiliation  of  spirit  that 
such  experiences  involve. 

It  is  difficult  at  this  point  to  be  sufficient- 
ly explicit.  The  time  came,  before  the 
Swami  left  England,  when  I  addressed  him 
as  " Master."  I  had  recognised  the  heroic 
fibre  of  the  man,  and  desired  to  make  my- 
self the  servant  of  his  love  for  his  own  people. 
But  it  was  his  character  to  which  I  had 
thus  done  obeisance.  As  a  religious  teacher, 
I  saw  that  although  he  had  a  system  of 
thought  to  offer,  nothing  in  that  system 
would  claim  him  for  a  moment,  if  he  found 


that  truth  led  elsewhere.  And  to  the  extent 
that  this  recognition  implies,  I  became  his 
disciple.  For  the  rest,  I  studied  his  teaching 
sufficiently  to  become  convinced  of  its 
coherence,  but  never,  till  I  had  had  experien- 
ces that  authenticated  them,  did  I 
inwardly  cast  in  my  lot  with  the  final 
justification  of  the  things  he  came  to  say. 
Nor  did  I  at  that  time,  though  deeply  attracted 
by  his  personality,  dream  of  the  immense 
distance  which  I  was  afterwards  to  see,  as 
between  his  development  and  that  of  any 
other  thinker  or  man  of  genius  whom  I 
could  name. 

Referring  to  this  scepticism  of  mine, 
which  was  well  known  at  the  time  to  the 
rest  of  the  class,  a  more  fortunate  disciple,, 
long  afterwards,  was  teasing  me,  in  the 
Swami's  presence,  and  claiming  that  she 
had  been  able  to  accept  every  statement  she 
had  ever  heard  him  make.  The  Swami  paid 
little  or  no  attention  to  the  conversation 



at  the  time,  but  afterwards  he  took  a 
quiet  moment  to  say  ''Let  none  regret  that 
they  were  difficult  to  convince  !  I  fought  my 
Master  for  six  long  years,  with  the  result 
that  I  know  every  inch  of  the  way !  Every 
inch  of  the  way  !" 

One  or  two  impressions,  however,  stand 
out  from  those  first  discourses.  Chris- 
tianity had  once  meant  to  me  the  reali- 
sation of  God  as  the  Father.  But  I  had 
long  mourned  over  my  own  loss  of  faith 
in  this  symbolism,  and  had  desired  to  study 
its  value  as  an  idea,  apart  from  its  objective 
truth  or  untruth.  For  I  suspected  that 
such  a  conception  would  have  its  own  effect 
on  the  character  and  perhaps  on  the  civi- 
lisation of  those  who  held  it.  This  ques- 
tion, however,  I  had  been  unable  to  follow 
up,  for  want  of  material  of  comparison . 
And  here  was  one  who  told  us  of  no  less 
than  five  systems  of  worship,  founded  on 
similar  personifications  of  the  divine  idea 


He  preached  a  religion   which  began  with 
the  classification  of  religious  ideas ! 

I  was  very  much  struck,  further,  by  the 
strangeness,  as  well  as  the  dignity,  of  some 
of  the  Indian  conceptions  which  I  now 
heard  of  for  the  first  time.  The  very  newness 
of  these  metaphors,  and  of  the  turn  of 
thought,  made  them  an  acquisition.  There 
was  the  tale,  for  instance,  of  the  saint  who 
ran  after  a  thief,  with  the  vessels  he  had 
dropped  in  his  terror  at  being  discovered, 
and  cast  them  all  at  his  feet,  crying, 
"O  Lord,  I  knew  not  that  Thou  wast  there  ! 
Take  them,  they  are  Thine !  Pardon  me 
Thy  child  !"  And  again,  of  the  same  saint, 
we  heard  how  he  described  the  bite  of  a 
cobra,  when  at  nightfall  he  recovered,  by 
saying  *'  A  messenger  came  to  me  from  the 
Beloved."  There  was  the  inference,  again, 
that  the  Swami  himself  had  drawn  from  the 
mirage  in  the  desert.  Fifteen  days  he  had 
seen  it,  and  taken  it  always  to  be  water. 



But  now  that  he  had  been  thirsty  and  found 
it  to  be  unreal,  he  might  see  it  again  for 
fifteen  days,  but  always  henceforth  he  would 
know  it  to  be  false.  The  experience  to 
which  such  achievements  had  been  possible, 
the  philosophy  that  could  draw  some  parallel 
between  this  journey  in  the  desert  and  life, 
were  such  as  it  seemed  an  education  to 

But  there  was  a  third  element  in  the 
Swami's  teaching,  whose  unexpectedness 
occasioned  me  some  surprise.  It  was  easy 
to  see  that  he  was  no  mere  lecturer,  like 
some  other  propounders  of  advanced  ideas 
whom  I  had  heard  even  from  the  pulpit. 
It  was  by  no  means  his  intention  to  set 
forth  dainty  dishes  of  poetry  and  intellect- 
uality for  the  enjoyment  of  the  rich  and 
idle  classes.  He  was,  to  his  own  thinking 
at  least,  as  clearly  an  apostle,  making  an 
appeal  to  men,  as  any  poor  evangelical 
preacher,  or  Salvation  Army  officer,  calling 


on  the  world  to  enter  into  the  kingdom 
of  God.  And  yet  he  took  his  stand  on 
what  was  noblest  and  best  in  us.  I  was 
not  thinking  of  his  announcement  that  sin 
was  only  an  evil  dream.  I  knew  that 
such  a  theory  might  merely  be  part  of 
a  cumbrous  system  of  theology,  and  no 
more  a  reality  to  its  elucidator  than  the 
doctrine  that  when  a  man  steals  our  coat 
we  should  give  to  him  our  cloak  also,  was 
to  ourselves.  The  thing  that  I  found 
astonishing  was  a  certain  illustration  urged 
by  him.  His  audience  was  composed  for 
the  most  part  of  fashionable  young 
mothers,  and  he  spoke  of  their  terror  and 
their  flight,  if  a  tiger  should  suddenly  appear 
before  them  in  the  street.  "But  suppose",  he 
said,  with  a  sudden  change  of  tone,  "suppose 
there  were  a  baby  in  the  path  of  the  tiger ! 
Where  would  your  place  be  then  ?  At  his 
mouth — any  one  of  you — I  am  sure  of  it." 
These,  then,  were  the  things  I  remem- 



bered  and  pondered  over,  concerning  the 
Swami,  when  he  had  left  England,  that 
winter,  for  America, — first,  the  breadth  of 
his  religious  culture ;  second,  the  great 
intellectual  newness  and  interest  of  the 
thought  he  had  brought  to  us ;  and  thirdly, 
the  fact  that  his  call  was  sounded  in  the  name 
of  that  which  was  strongest  and  finest,  and 
was  not  in  any  way  dependent  on  the 
meaner  elements  in  man. 



LONDON— 1896. 

The  Swami  returned  to  London,  in 
April  of  the  year  following,  and  taught 
continuously,  at  the  house  where  he  was 
living  with  his  good  friend,  Mr.  E.  T. 
Sturdy,  in  S.  George's  Road,  and  again, 
after  the  summer  holidays,  in  a  large  class- 
room near  Victoria  Street.  During  July, 
August,  and  September,  he  travelled  in 
France,  Germany  and  Switzerland,  with  his 
friends,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Sevier,  and  Miss 
H.  F.  Muller.  In  December,  he  left  for 
India,  with  some  of  his  disciples,  by  way  of 
Rome,  and  arrived  at  Colombo,  in  Ceylon, 
on  January  the  i5th,  1897. 

Many  of  the  lectures  which  he  gave 
during  the  year  1896,  have  since  been  pub- 


lished,  and  in  them,  all  the  world  may  read 
his  message,  and  the  interpretation  by  which 
he  sought  to  make  it  clear.  He  had  come 
to  us  as  a  missionary  of  the  Hindu  belief  in 
the  Immanent  God,  and  he  called  upon  us  to 
realise  the  truth  of  his  gospel  for  ourselves. 
Neither  then,  nor  at  any  after-time,  did  I 
ever  hear  him  advocate  to  his  audience  any 
specialised  form  of  religion.  He  would  refer 
freely  enough  to  the  Indian  sects, — or  as  I 
would  like  to  call  them,  '  churches, ' — by 
way  of  illustration  of  what  he  had  to  say. 
But  he  never  preached  anything  but  that 
philosophy  which,  to  Indian  thinking,  under- 
lies all  creeds.  He  never  quoted  anything 
but  the  Vedas,  the  Upanishads,  and  the 
Bhagavad  Gita.  And  he  never,  in  public, 
mentioned  his  own  Master,  nor  spoke  in 
specific  terms  of  any  part  of  Hindu  mythology. 
He  was  deeply  convinced  of  the  need  for 
Indian  thought,  in  order  to  enable  the  reli- 
gious consciousness  of  the  West  to  welcome 


and  assimilate  the  discoveries  of  modern 
science,  and  to  enable  it  also  to  survive  that 
destruction  of  local  mythologies  which  is  an 
inevitable  result  of  all  world-consolidations. 
He  felt  that  what  was  wanted  was  a  formu- 
lation of  faith  which  could  hold  its  adherents 
fearless  of  truth.  "  The  salvation  of  Europe 
depends  on  a  rationalistic  religion,  "  he  ex- 
claims, in  the  course  of  one  of  his  lectures  ; 
and  again,  many  times  repeated,  "  The 
materialist  is  right !  There  is  but  One. 
Only  he  calls  that  One  Matter,  and  I  call  it 
God  !"  In  another,  and  longer  passage,  he 
describes  the  growth  of  the  religious  idea, 
and  the  relation  of  its  various  forms  to  one 
another.  "  At  first,"  he  says,  ''the  goal 
is  far  off,  outside  Nature,  and  far  beyond 
it,  attracting  us  all  towards  it.  This  has  to 
be  brought  near,  yet  without  being  degraded 
or  degenerated,  until,  when  it  has  come 
closer  and  closer,  the  God  of  Heaven  be- 
comes the  God  in  Nature,  till  the  God  in 


Nature  becomes  the  God  who  is  Nature, 
and  the  God  who  is  Nature,  becomes  the 
God  within  this  temple  of  the  body,  and 
the  God  dwelling  in  the  temple  of  the  body 
becomes  the  temple  itself,  becomes  the 
soul  of  man.  Thus  it  reaches  the  last 
words  it  can  teach.  He  whom  the  sages 
have  sought  in  all  these  places,  is  in  our 
own  hearts.  Thou  art  He,  O  Man  !  Thou 
art  He!" 

He  always  considered,  for  his  own  part, 
that  his  greatest  intellectual  achievement 
during  this  period  had  consisted  in  his 
lectures  on  Maya,  and  it  is  only  by 
reading  these  carefully,  that  an  idea  can 
be  formed  of  the  difficulty  of  the  task 
he  undertook,  in  trying  to  render  the  concep- 
tion in  modern  English.  Throughout  the 
chapters  in  question  we  feel  that  we  are 
in  presence  of  a  struggle  to  express  an  idea 
which  is  clearly  apprehended,  in  a  language 
which  is  not  a  fit  vehicle  for  it.  The 


word  is  wrongly  understood,  says  the  Swami, 
to  mean  'delusion'.  Originally  it  meant 
something  like  '  magic, '  as  "  Indra  through 
his  Maya  assumed  various  forms."  But  this 
meaning  was  subsequently  dropped,  and 
the  word  went  through  many  transformations. 
A  milestone  in  the  series  of  conceptions 
that  finally  determined  its  meaning  is  found 
in  the  text,  "  Because  we  talk  in  vain, 
and  because  we  are  satisfied  with  the  things 
of  the  senses,  and  because  we  are  running 
after  desires,  therefore  we,  as  it  were,  cover 
this  reality  with  a  mist"  Finally  the  word 
is  seen  to  have  assumed  its  ultimate  meaning 
in  the  quotation  from  the  Svetasvatara 
Upanishad.  "  Know  Nature  to  be  Maya. 
And  the  mind,  the  ruler  of  this  Maya,  as  the 
Lord  Himself."  "  The  Maya  of  the 
Vedanta,"  says  the  speaker,  "  in  its  latest 
development,  is  a  simple  statement  of  facts — 
what  we  are,  and  what  we  see  around  us." 
But  that  these  words  are  not  intended  as 



a  definition  will  be  seen  by  anyone  who 
reads  the  whole  of  the  lectures  on  Maya  for 
himself.  It  is  there  evident  that  the  word 
does  not  simply  refer  to  the  Universe  as 
known  through  the  senses,  but  also  describes 
the  tortuous,  erroneous,  and  self- contradic- 
tory character  of  that  knowledge.  "  This  is 
a  statement  of  fact,  not  a  theory."  says  the 
Swami,  "that  this  world  is  a  Tantalus'  hell, 
that  we  do  not  know  anything  about  this 
Universe,  yet  at  the  same  time  we  cannot 
say  that  we  do  not  know.  To  walk  in 
the  midst  of  a  dream,  half  sleeping,  half 
waking,  passing  all  our  lives  in  a  haze,  this  is 
the  fate  of  every  one  of  us.  This  is  the  fate 
of  all  sense  knowledge.  This  is  the  Uni- 
verse". We  see  here,  as  in  many  other  of  his 
interpretations,  that  an  Indian  word  is  incap- 
able of  exact  rendering  into  English,  and  that 
the  only  way  of  arriving  at  an  understanding 
of  it  is  to  try  to  catch  the  conception  which 
the  speaker  is  striving  to  express,  rather  than 



to  fasten  the  attention  on  a  sentence  or  two 
here  or  there.  By  Maya  is  thus  meant  that 
shimmering,  elusive,  half-real  half-unreal 
complexity,  in  which  there  is  no  rest,  no  satis- 
faction, no  ultimate  certainty,  of  which  we  be- 
come aware  through  the  senses,  and  through 
the  mind  as  dependent  on  the  senses.  At 
the  same  time — "And  That  by  which  all  this 
is  pervaded,  know  That  to  be  the  Lord  Him- 
self!" In  these  two  conceptions,  placed  side  by 
side,  we  have  the  whole  theology  of  Hindu- 
ism, as  presented  by  the  Swami  Vivekananda, 
in  the  West.  All  other  teachings  and  ideas 
-are  subordinated  to  these  two.  Religion  was 
a  matter  of  the  growth  of  the  individual,  *'a 
question  always  of  being  and  becoming." 
But  such  growth  must  presuppose  the  two 
fundamental  facts,  and  the  gradual  transfer 
-ence  of  the  centre  of  gravity,  as  it  were,  out 
of  the  one  into  the  other, — out  of  Maya  into 
the  Self.  The  condition  of  absorption  in 
Maya  was  "  bondage"  in  the  Eastern  sense. 



To  have  broken  that  bondage  was  "freedom" 
or  Mukti,  or  even  Nii'vana.  The  path  for 
the  would-be  breaker  of  bondage  must 
always  be  by  seeking  for  renunciation, 
not  by  seeking  for  enjoyment.  In  this 
matter,  the  Swami  was,  as  he  said  himself, 
only  echoing  what  had  been  the  burden  of 
all  religions.  For  all  religions,  Indian 
and  other,  have  called  a  halt  in  the  quest 
for  pleasure.  All  have  sought  to  turn  life 
into  a  battlefield  rather  than  a  ball-room. 
All  have  striven  to  make  man  strong  for 
death  rather  than  for  life.  Where  I  think 
that  the  Swami  perhaps  differed  somewhat 
from  other  teachers  was  in  his  acceptance 
of  every  kind  of  mastery  as  a  form  of 
renunciation.  Towards  the  end  of  his  life  I 
told  him  that  'renunciation'  was  the  only 
word  I  had  ever  heard  from  his  lips.  And 
yet  in  truth  I  .  think  that  '  conquer ! '  was 
much  more  characteristic  of  him.  For  he 
pointed  out  that  it  was  by  renunciation, 



that  is  to  say,  by  sustained  and  determined 
effort,  by  absorption  in  hard  problems 
through  lonely  hours,  by  choosing  toil  and 
refusing  ease,  that  Stephenson,  for  instance, 
invented  the  steam-engine.  He  pointed  out 
that  the  science  of  medicine  represented  as 
strong  a  concentration  of  man's  mind 
upon  healing  as  would  be  required  for 
a  cure  by  prayer  or  by  thought.  He  made 
us  feel  that  all  study  was  an  austerity  direc- 
ted to  a  given  end  of  knowledge.  And 
above  all,  he  preached  that  character,  and 
character  alone,  was  the  power  that  deter- 
mined the  permanence  of  a  religious  wave. 
Resistance  was  to  his  mind  the  duty  of  the 
citizen,  non-resistance  of  the  monk.  And 
this,  because  for  all  the  supreme  achievement, 
was  strength.  ''Forgive,"  he  said,  "when 
you  also  can  bring  legions  of  angels  to  an 
easy  victory."  While  victory  was  still  doubt- 
ful, however,  only  a  coward,  to  his  thinking, 
would  turn  the  other  cheek. 



One  reads  the  same  lesson  in  his  Master's 
story  of  the  boy  who  for  twenty  years  worked 
to  aquire  the  power  to  walk  on  water.  "And 
so,"  said  a  saint,  "you  have  given  twenty  \ 
years  of  effort  to  doing  that  for  which  others  j 
give  the  ferryman  a  penny !"  The  lad  might/ 
have  answered  that  no  ferryman  could  give 
his  passengers  what  he  had  acquired  by 
twenty  years  of  patient  striving.  But  the 
fact  remains  that  to  these  teachers,  supreme- 
ly sane,  the  world's  art  of  navigation  had  its 
own  full  value  and  its  proper  place.  Years 
afterwards,  in  Paris,  some  one  approached 
him  with  a  question  as  to  the  general  history 
of  the  development  of  Indian  ideas  on  these 
subjects.  "Did  Buddha  teach  that  the  many 
was  real  and  the  ego  unreal,  while  Orthodox 
Hinduism  regards  the  One  as  the  Real,  and 
the  many  as  unreal  ?"  he  was  asked.  "Yes," 
answered  the  Swami,  "And  what  Rama- 
krishna  Paramahamsa  and  I  have  added  to 
this  is,  that  the  Many  and  the  One  are  the 


same   Reality,  perceived  by  the  same  mind 
at  different  times  and  in  different  attitudes." 

Gifted  to  an  extraordinary  degree  with  a 
living  utterance  of  metaphysic,  drawing 
always  upon  a  classical  literature  of  wonder- 
ful depth  and  profundity,  he  stood  in  our 
midst  as,  before  all,  the  apostle  of  the  inner 
life,  the  prophet  of  the  subordination  of  the 
objective  to  the  subjective.  "Remember!" 
he  said  once  to  a  disciple,  "Remember!  the 
message  of  India  is  always  'Not  the  soul 
for  Nature,  but  Nature  for  the  soul  T 
And  this  was  indeed  the  organ-note,  as  it 
were,  the  deep  fundamental  vibration,  that 
began  gradually  to  make  itself  heard  through 
all  the  intellectual  interest  of  the  things 
he  discussed,  and  the  point  of  view  he 
revealed.  Like  the  sound  of  the  flute,  heard 
far  away  on  the  banks  of  some  river  in  the 
hour  of  dawn,  and  regarded  as  but  one 
amongst  many  sweet  songs  of  the  world  : 
and  like  the  same  strain  when  the  listener 


has  drawn  nearer  and  nearer,  and  at  last, 
with  his  whole  mind  on  the  music,  has  be- 
come himself  the  player — may  have  seemed 
to  some  who  heard  him  long,  the  difference 
between  the  life  of  the  soul  in  Western 
thinking  and  in  Eastern.  And  with  this 
came  the  exaltation  of  renunciation.  It  was 
not,  perhaps,  that  the  word  occurred  in 
his  teachings  any  oftener  than  it  had  done 
before.  It  was  rather  that  the  reality  of 
that  life,  free,  undimensioned,  sovereign 
in  its  mastery,  was  making  itself  directly 
felt.  A  temptation  that  had  to  be  fought 
against  was  the  impulse  to  go  away,  and 
bind  upon  oneself  intellectual  shackles  not 
to  be  borne,  in  order  to  be  able  to  enter 
in  its  fulness  upon  the  life  of  poverty 
and  silence. 

An  occasion  came,  when  this  call  was 
uttered  with  great  force.  Some  dispute 
occurred  in  the  course  of  a  question-class. 
"What  the  world  wants  to-day",  said  the 



Swami, — the  determination  to  "throw  a 
bomb,"  as  he  called  it,  evidently  taking  sud- 
den possession  of  him, — "What  the  world 
wants  to-day,  is  twenty  men  and  women 
who  can  dare  to  stand  in  the  street 
yonder,  and  say  that  they  possess  nothing- 
but  God.  Who  will  go?"  He  had  risen 
to  his  feet  by  this  time,  and  stood  looking 
round  his  audience  as  if  begging  some  of 
them  to  join  him,  "Why  should  one  fear?" 
And  then,  in  tones  of  which,  even  now,  I 
can  hear  again  the  thunderous  conviction, 
"If  this  is  true,  what  else  could  matter? 
If  it  is  not  true,  what  do  our  lives  matter  ?" 
"What  the  world  wants  is  character," 
he  says,  in  a  letter  written  at  this  time  to  a 
member  of  his  class.  "The  world  is  in  need 
of  those  whose  life  is  one  burning  love — self- 
less. That  love  will  make  every  word  tell 
like  a  thunder-bolt.  Awake,  awake,  great 
souls !  The  world  is  burning  in  misery. 
Can  you  sleep  ?" 



I  remember  how  new  to  myself  at  that 
time  was  this  Indian  idea  that  it  was  charac- 
ter that  made  a  truth  tell,  the  love  expressed 
that  made  aid  successful,  the  degree  of  con- 
centration behind  a  saying  that  gave  it  force 
and  constituted  its  power.  Thus  the  text 
'Consider  the  lilies,  how  they  grow,'  holds  us, 
said  the  Swami,  not  by  the  spell  of  its  beauty, 
but  by  the  depth  of  renunciation  that  speaks 
in  it. 

Was  this  true  ?  I  felt  that  the  question 
might  be  tested  by  experience,  and  after 
some  time  I  came  to  the  conclusion  that 
it  was.  A  quiet  word,  from  a  mind  that 
put  thought  behind  language,  carried  im- 
mediate weight,  when  the  same  utterance 
from  the  careless,  would  pass  by  unheeded. 
I  do  not  know  a  stronger  instance  of  this 
fact  than  a  certain  saying  that  is  recorded 
of  the  Caliph  Ali.  Many  have  heard,  and 
none  surely  without  emotion,  the  words  of 
the  Lion  of  Islam,  "  Thy  place  in  life  is 



seeking  after  thee.  Therefore  be  thou  at 
rest  from  seeking  after  it ! "  But  never, 
until  we  relate  them  to  the  speaker,  four 
times  passed  over  in  the  succession  to  the 
Caliphate,  never  until  we  know  how  the 
man's  whole  life  throbs  through  them,  are 
we  able  to  explain  the  extraordinary  power 
of  these  simple  sentences. 

I  found  also  that  an  utterance  consciously 
directed  to  the  mind,  instead  of  merely  to 
the  hearing,  of  the  listener,  evoked  more 
response  than  the  opposite.  And  having 
begun  to  make  these  psychological  dis- 
coveries, I  was  led  gradually  to  the  percep- 
tion that  if  indeed  one's  reason  could,  as 
one  had  long  thought,  make  no  final  line 
of  demarcation  as  between  mind  and  matter, 
yet  at  least  that  aspect  of  the  One-substance 
which  we  called  Matter  was  rather  the  result 
of  that  called  Mind  or  Spirit,  than  the 
reverse.  The  body,  not  the  will,  must  be 
regarded  as  a  bye -product  of  the  indivi- 



duality.  This  in  turn  led  to  the  conception  of 
a  consciousness  held  above  the  body,  a 
life  governing  matter,  and  free  of  it,  so 
that  it  might  conceivably  disrobe  and  find 
new  garments,  or  cast  off  the  form  known 
to  us,  as  that  form  itself  casts  off  a  wounded 
skin.  Till  at  last  I  found  my  own  mind 
echoing  the  Swami's  great  pronouncement  on 
immortality,  "  The  body  comes  and  goes." 
But  this  ripening  of  thought  came 
gradually  and  did  not  complete  itself  for 
many  months. 

In  the  meantime,  as  I  look  back  upon 
that  time,  I  feel  that  what  we  all  really 
entered  upon  in  the  Swami's  classes  was 
not  so  much  an  intellectual  exposition,  as 
a  life  of  new  and  lofty  emotions, — or,  as  they 
would  be  called  in  India,  'realisations.' 

We  heard  the  exclamation,  in  describing 

the  worship  of  God  as  a  child,  "do  we  want 
anything  from   Him  ?"     We   bowed   to  the 

teaching  that  "love  is  always  a  manifestation 



of  bliss,"  and  that  any  pang  of  pain  or  regret 
was  therefore  a  mark  of  selfishness  and 
physicality.  We  accepted  the  austere  ruling 
that  any,  even  the  slightest,  impulse  of 
differentiation,  as  between  ourselves  and 
others  was  '  hatred,'  and  that  only  the 
opposite  of  this  was  'love.'  Many  who 
have  ceased  to  believe  in  the  creed  of  their 
childhood  have  felt  that  at  least  the  good 
of  others  was  still  an  end  in  itself,  and 
that  the  possibility  of  service  remained,  to 
give  a  motive  to  life.  It  is  strange,  now 
that  ten  years  have  passed,  to  remember 
the  sense  of  surprise  with  which,  holding 
this  opinion,  we  listened  to  the  decorous 
eastern  teaching,  that  highest  of  all  gifts 
was  spirituality,  a  degree  lower,  intellec- 
tual knowledge,  and  that  all  kinds  of  phy- 
sical and  material  help  came  last.  All  our 
welling  pity  for  sickness  and  for  poverty 
classified  in  this  fashion !  It  has  taken 
me  years  to  find  out,  but  I  now  know, 



that  in  train  of  the  higher  giving,  the  lower 
must  needs  follow. 

Similarly,  to  our  Western  fanaticism 
about  pure  air  and  hygienic  surroundings,  as 
if  these  were  marks  of  saintliness,  was 
opposed  the  stern  teaching  of  indifference  to 
the  world.  Here  indeed,  we  came  up 
against  a  closed  door,  and  had  no  key. 
When  the  Swami  said,  in  bold  consciousness 
of  paradox,  that  the  saints  had  lived  on 
mountain-tops  "  to  enjoy  the  scenery,  "  and 
when  he  advised  his  hearers  to  keep  flowers 
.and  incense  in  their  worship-rooms,  and  to 
care  much  for  the  purity  and  cleansing  of 
food  and  person,  we  did  not  understand 
enough  to  connect  the  two  extremes.  But 
in  fact  he  was  preaching  our  own  doctrine 
of  physical  refinement,  as  it  would  be  formu- 
lated in  India.  And  is  it  not  true  that  until  we 
in  the  West  have  succeeded  in  cleansing  the 
slums  of  our  great  cities,  our  fastidiousness  is 
•very  like  the  self-worship  of  the  privileged  ? 



A  like  fate  awaited  our  admiration  for 
such  saints  as  knew  how  to  order  their  worldly 
affairs  with  conspicuous  success  and  pru- 
dence. True  spirituality  was  indifferent  to, 
nay  contemptuous  and  intolerant  of,  the 
things  of  this  world.  This  message  the 
Swami  never  mitigated.  In  giving  it,  he 
never  faltered.  The  highest  spirituality 
cannot  tolerate  the  world. 

We  understood  clearly  enough  that  these 
were  the  ideals  of  sainthood  only.  We 
were  learning  chapter  after  chapter  of  a 
great  language  which  was  to  make  it  easy 
for  us  to  hold  communion  with  the  ends 
of  the  earth.  We  gathered  no  confusion 
as  to  those  questions  which  concern  the  life 
of  citizenship  and  domestic  virtue,  and  form 
what  may  be  regarded  as  the  kindergarten  of 
the  soul.  The  idea  that  one  country  might 
best  advance  itself  by  learning  to  appre- 
ciate those  ideals  of  order  and  respon- 
sibility which  formed  the  glory  of  another 



was  in  no  wise  discredited.  At  the  same 
time  we  were  given,  as  the  eternal  watch- 
word of  the  Indian  ideals,  "Spirituality 
cannot  tolerate  the  world."  Did  we,  in 
contradiction,  point  to  monastic  orders,  well- 
governed,  highly  organised,  devoted  to  the 
public  good,  and  contrast  our  long  roll 
of  abbots,  bishops,  and  saintly  lady-abbesses, 
with  a  few  ragged  and  God-intoxicated 
beggars  of  the  East?  Yet  we  had  to  ad- 
mit that  even  in  the  West,  when  the  flame 
of  spirituality  had  blazed  suddenly  to  its 
brightest,  it  had  taken  their  form.  For 
those  who  know  the  land  of  Meera  Bae 
and  Chaitanya,  of  Tukaram  and  Ramanuja, 
can  hardly  resist  the  impulse  to  clothe 
with  the  yellow  garb  the  memory  of  S. 
Francis  of  Assissi  also. 

In  one  of  the  volumes  of  the  English  trans- 
lation of  the  'Jataka  Birth-Tales',  there 
occur  over  and  over  again  the  words  'when 
a  man  has  come  to  that  place  where  he  dreads 



heaven  as  imick  as  hell" — and  I  do  not  know 
how  the  realisation  that  the  Swami's  pre- 
sence brought  could  be  better  described. 
Most  of  those  who  listened  to  him 
in  London,  in  the  year  1896,  caught 
some  glimpse,  by  which  they  were 
led  to  understand  a  little  of  the  meaning 
of  the  eastern  longing  to  escape  from 

But  master  of  all  these  moods  and 
dominating  them,  was  one  that  had  barely 
been  hinted  at,  in  the  words  "If  this  is 
true,  what  other  thing  could  matter?  If 
it  is  not  true,  what  do  our  lives  matter?" 
For  there  was  a  power  in  this  teacher  to 
sum  up  all  the  truths  he  himself  had  come 
to  teach,  together  with  his  own  highest 
hope,  and  to  treat  the  whole  as  a  mean 
bribe,  to  be  flung  away  fearlessly,  if  need 
were,  for  the  good  of  others.  Years  after, 
this  spoke  more  clearly  in  the  indignant 
reply  with  which  he  turned  on  some 



remark  of  my  own,  "  Of  course  I 
would  commit  a  crime,  and  go  to  hell  for 
ever,  if  by  that  I  could  really  help  a  human 
being !  "  It  was  the  same  impulse  that  spoke 
also,  in  his  constant  repetition  to  some  few 
of  us,  as  if  it  had  a  special  bearing  on  the 
present  age,  of  the  tale  of  that  Bodhisattva, 
who  had  held  himself  back  from  Nirvana  till 
the  last  grain  of  dust  in  the  universe  should 
have  gone  in  before  him  to  salvation. 
Does  it  mean  that  the  final  mark  of  freedom 
lies  in  ceasing  from  the  quest  of  freedom  ?  I 
have  found  the  same  thing  since,  in  many  of 
the  Indian  stories  ;  in  Ramanuja,  for  instance, 
breaking  his  vow,  and  proclaiming  the  sacred 
mantram  to  all  the  pariahs ;  in  Buddha, 
keeping  no  secret,  but  spending  his  whole 
life  in  work  ;  in  Shishupal,  choosing  to  be 
the  enemy  of  God,  that  he  might  the  sooner 
return  to  him  ;  and  in  innumerable  legends 
of  the  saints  fighting  against  the  deities. 
But  the  Swami  was  not  always  entirely 



impersonal.  Once  after  a  lecture  he  came 
up  to  a  small  group  of  us,  and  said,  a  propos 
of  some  subject  that  had  been  opened  up, 
"  I  have  a  superstition, — it  is  nothing,  you 
know,  but  a  personal  superstition  ! — that  the 
same  soul  who  came  once  as  Buddha  came 
afterwards  as  Christ.  "  And  then,  lingering 
on  the  point  of  departure,  he  drifted 
into  talk  of  his  "  old  Master,  "  of  whom 
we  then  heard  for  the  first  time,  and  of 
the  girl  who,  wedded  and  forgotten,  gave 
her  husband  his  freedom,  with  tears.  His 
voice  had  sunk  lower,  as  he  talked,  till  the 
tones  had  become  dream-like.  But  final- 
ly, almost  in  soliloquy,  he  shook  off  the 
mood  that  had  stolen  upon  him,  saying 
with  a  long  breath,  "  Yes,  yes !  these 
things  have  been,  and  they  will  again  be. 
Go  in  peace,  my  daughter,  thy  faith  hath 
made  thee  whole !  " 

It  was   in   the  course  of  a  conversation 
much  more  casual  than  this,   that  he  turned 



to  me  and  said,  "  I  have  plans  for  the  women 
of  my  own  country  in  which  you,   I   think, 
could  be  of  great  help  to  me,"  and  I  knew 
that  I   had  heard  a  call  which  would  change 
my    life.     What    these    plans    were,     I    did 
not    know,    and    the    effort    of   abandoning 
the    accustomed    perspective    was    for    the 
moment   so   great   that    I    did    not    care    to 
-ask.     But  I  had  already  gathered  that  there 
was  much  to  learn,  if  one's  conception  of  the 
world    were    to    be  made    inclusive   of    the 
view-point  of  foreign   peoples.  — "  And  you 
have  blasted  other  cities  !"    had  once  been 
the  startling  reply,   when   I   had    spoken  of 
the  necessity  of  making  London  fair.     For 
to  me  the  mystery  and   tragedy  of  London 
had  long  been  the  microcosm  of  the  human 
problem,    standing    as    the    symbol    of    the 
whole  world's  call.       "  And  you  have   blasted 
other    cities,     to    make    this   city   of    yours 
beautiful !"     I  could  elicit  no  more,   but  the 
words  echoed    in   my   ears   for   many   days. 



In  my  eyes,  our  city  was  not  beautiful.  My 
question  had  been  misunderstood.  But 
through  this  misunderstanding,  I  had  dis- 
covered that  there  was  another  point  of  view. 
"The  English  are  born  on  an  island,  and 
they  are  always  trying  to  live  on  it,"  said 
the  Master  once  to  me,  and  certainly  the 
remark  seems  true  of  myself,  as  I  look  back 
on  this  period  of  my  life,  and  see  how 
determinately  insular  even  my  ideals  had 
hitherto  been.  I  learnt  no  more  of  the  Indian 
point  of  view,  during  my  life  in  England. 
The  friend  who  afterwards  called  me  to  her 
side  in  India,  chose  a  certain  evening  in 
London,  when  both  the  Swami  and  myself 
were  her  guests  for  an  hour,  to  tell  him  of  my 
willingness  to  help  his  work.  He  was  evi- 
dently surprised,  but  said  quietly,  "  For  my 
own  part  I  will  be  incarnated  two  hundred 
times,  if  that  is  necessary,  to  do  this  work 
amongst  my  people,  that  I  have  undertaken." 
And  the  words  stand  in  my  own  mind  beside 



those  which  he  afterwards  wrote  to  me  on 
the  eve  of  my  departure,  "/  will  standby 
you  unto  death,  whether  you  work  for  India 
or  not,  whether  you  give  up  Vedanta,  or 
remain  in  it.  The  tusks  of  the  elephant 
come  out,  but  they  never  go  back.  Even 
so  are  the  words  of  a  man." 

But  these  references  to  the  Swami's 
own  people  were  merely  personal,  and  as 
such  were  strictly  subordinate.  In  his  classes, 
in  his  teachings,  his  one  longing  seemed 
to  be  for  the  salvation  of  men  from  ignorance. 
Such  love,  such  pity,  those  who  heard  him 
never  saw  elsewhere.  To  him,  his  disciples 
were  his  disciples.  There  was  neither  Indian 
nor  European  there.  And  yet  he  was  pro- 
foundly conscious  of  the  historic  significance 
of  his  own  preaching.  On  the  occasion  of 
his  last  appearance  in  London,  [at  the  Royal 
Society  of  Painters  in  Watercolours,  on 
Sunday  afternoon,  December  the  i5th,  1896] 
he  pointed  out  the  fact  that  history  repeats 



itself,  and  that  Christianity  had  been  ren- 
dered possible  only  by  the  Roman  Peace. 
And  it  may  well  have  been  that  the  Buddha- 
like  dignity  and  calm  of  bearing  which 
so  impressed  us,  were  but  the  expression 
of  his  far  outlook  and  serene  conviction  that 
there  would  yet  be  seen  a  great  army  of 
Indian  preachers  in  the  West,  reaping  the 
harvest  that  he  had  sown  so  well,  and  making 
ready  in  their  turn  new  harvests,  for  the 
more  distant  reaping  of  the  future. 



"HE  knew  nothing  of  Vedanta,  nothing  of 
theories !  He  was  contented  to  live  that 
great  life,  and  to  leave  it  to  others  to  explain." 
So  said  the  Swami  Vivekananda  once,  refer- 
ring to  his  Master,  Ramakrishna  Parama- 
hamsa.  And,  as  an  expression  of  the  idea 
that  there  may  in  a  great  life  be  elements 
which  he  who  lives  it  may  not  himself  under- 
stand, the  words  have  often  come  back  to  me, 
in  reference  to  his  own  career. 

In  the  West,  the  Swami  had  revealed 
himself  to  us  as  a  religious  teacher  only. 
Even  now,  it  needs  but  a  moment's  thought 
and  again  one  sees  him  in  the  old  lecture- 
room,  on  the  seat  slightly  raised  above  his 
class,  and  so  enthroned,  in  Buddha-like  calm, 
once  more  in  a  modern  world  is  heard 
through  his  lips,  the  voice  of  the  far  past. 



But  renunciation,  the  thirst  after  freedom, 
the  breaking  of  bondage,  the  fire  of  purity, 
the  joy  of  the  witness,  the  mergence  of  the 
personal  in  the  impersonal,  these,  and  these 
alone,  had  been  the  themes  of  that  dis- 
course. It  is  true  that  in  a  flash  or  two  one 
had  seen  a  great  patriot.  Yet  the  secret 
signal  is  sufficient  where  destiny  calls,  and 
moments  that  to  one  form  the  turning-point 
of  a  life,  may  pass  before  the  eyes  of  a 
hundred  spectators,  unperceived.  It  was  as 
the  apostle  of  Hinduism,  not  as  a  worker  for 
India,  that  we  saw  the  Swami  in  the  West. 
"Oh  how  calm,"  he  exclaimed,  "  would  be 
the  work  of  one,  who  really  understood 
the  divinity  of  man !  For  such,  there  is 
nothing  to  do,  save  to  open  men's  eyes. 
All  the  rest  does  itself."  And  out  of  some 
such  fathomless  peace  had  come  all  that 
we  had  seen  and  heard  of  him. 

From    the    moment    of  my    landing    in 
India,    however,    I    found    something    quite 


unexpected  underlying  all  this.  It  was  not 
Ramakrishna  Paramahamsa,  nor  even  the 
ideas  which  were  connected  with  him,  that 
formed  so  strange  a  revelation  here.  It  was 
the  personality  of  my  Master  himself,  in 
all  the  fruitless  torture  and  struggle  of  a  lion 
caught  in  a  net.  For,  from  the  day  that 
he  met  me  at  the  ship's  side,  till  that  last 
serene  moment,  when,  at  the  hour  of  cow- 
dust,  he  passed  out  of  the  village  of  this 
world,  leaving  the  body  behind  him,  like  a 
folded  garment,  I  was  always  conscious  of 
this  element  inwoven  with  the  other,  in 
his  life. 

But  wherein  lay  the  struggle  ?  whence 
came  the  frequent  sense  of  being  baffled 
and  thwarted  ?  Was  it  a  growing  conscious- 
ness of  bodily  weakness,  conflicting  with  the 
growing  clearness  of  a  great  purpose  ? 
Amongst  the  echoes  that  had  reached  his 
English  friends  of  his  triumphal  reception 
in  India,  this  had  been  the,  note  carried  by 


a  man-friend  to  my  own  ear.  Banished 
to  the  Himalayas  with  shattered  health,  at 
the  very  moment  when  his  power  had 
reached  its  height,  he  had  written  a  letter 
to  his  friend  which  was  a  cry  of  despair. 
And  some  of  us  became  eager  to  take  any 
step  that  might  make  it  possible  to  induce 
him  to  return  to  the  West,  and  leave  his 
Indian  undertakings  on  other  shoulders.  In 
making  such  arrangements,  how  little  must 
we  have  realised  of  the  nature  of  those 
undertakings,  or  of  the  difficulty  and 
complexity  of  the  education  that  they 
demanded ! 

To  what  was  the  struggle  actually 
due  ?  Was  it  the  terrible  effort  of  translat- 
ing what  he  had  called  the  *sut  rr-r~nsci- 
ous'  into  the  common  life  ?  Undoubtedly 
he  had  been  born  to  a  task  which  was  in 
this  respect  of  heroic  difficulty.  Nothing 
in  this  world  is  so  terrible  as  to  abandon 
the  safe  paths  of  accepted  ideals,  in  order 


to  work  out  some  new  realisation,  by 
methods  apparently  in  conflict  with  the 
-old.  Once,  in  his  boyhood,  Sri  Ramakrishna 
had  asked  "Noren,"  as  he  was  then  called, 
what  was  his  highest  ambition  in  life,  and 
he  had  promptly  answered,  'to  remain 
always  in  Samad/ii.'  His  Master,  it  is 
said,  received  this  with  a  smile.  "I  thought 
you  had  been  born  for  something  greater, 
my  boy !"  was  all  his  reply.  We  may  take 
it,  I  think,  that  the  moment  marked  an 
epoch  in  the  disciple's  career.  Certainly 
in  years  to  come,  in  these  last  five  and  a 
half  years,  particularly,  which  were  his 
crowning  gift  to  his  own  people,  he  stood  for 
work  without  attachment,  or  work  for  im- 
personal ends,  as  one .  of  the  highest  ex- 
pressions of  the  religious  life.  And  for 
the  first  time  in  the  history  of  India  an  order  of 
monks  found  themselves  banded  together, 
with  their  faces  set  primarily  towards  the 
evolution  of  new  forms  of  civic  duty.  In 



Europe,  where  the  attainment  of  the  direct 
religious  sense  is  so  much  rarer,  and  so 
much  less  understood  than  in  the  East,  such 
labour  ranks  as  devotional  in  the  common 
acceptance.  But  in  India,  the  head  and 
front  of  the  demand  made  on  a  monastic 
order  is  that  it  produce  saints.  And  the 
value  of  the  monk  who,  instead  of  devoting 
himself  to  maintaining  the  great  tradition  of 
the  super-conscious  life,  turns  back  to  help 
society  upwards,  has  not  in  the  past  been 
clearly  understood. 

In  the  Swami's  scheme  of  things  how- 
ever, it  would  almost  seem  as  if  such  tasks 
were  to  take  that  place  in  the  spiritual  edu- 
cation which  had  previously  been  occupied 
by  systems  of  devotion.  To  the  Adwaitin, 
or  strict  believer  in  the  Indian  philosophy 
of  Vedanta,  the  goal  lies  in  the  attain- 
ment of  that  mood  in  which  all  is  One  and 
there  is  no  second.  To  one  who  has  reached 
this,  worship  becomes  impossible,  for  there 



is  none  to  worship,  none  to  be  worshipper  ; 
and,  all  acts  being  equally  the  expres- 
sion of  the  Immanent  Unity,  none  can  be 
distinguished  as  in  any  special  sense  con- 
stituting adoration.  Worship,  worshipper, 
and  worshipped  are  one.  Yet  it  is  ad- 
mitted, even  by  the  Adwaitin,  that  systems 
of  praise  and  prayer  have  the  power  to 
"purify  the  heart"  of  him  who  uses  them. 
For  clearly,  the  thought  of  self  is  more 
quickly  restrained  in  relation  to  that  of 
God,  than  to  any  other.  Worship  is  thus 
regarded  as  the  school,  or  preparation,  for 
higher  stages  of  spiritual  development.  But 
the  self-same  sequence  would  seem  to  have 
held  good  in  the  eyes  of  the  Swami,  with 
regard  to  work,  or  the  service  of  man. 
The  "purifying  of  the  heart"  connoted 
the  burning  out  of  selfishness.  Worship 
is  the  very  antithesis  of  use.  But  service 
or  giving,  is  also  its  antithesis.  Thus  he 
hallowed  the  act  of  aid,  and  hallowed,  too, 



the  name  of  man.  Till  I  know  of  one 
disciple,  who,  in  the  early  days  of  the 
Order,  was  so  filled  with  the  impulse  of  this 
reverence  that  he  sucked  the  sores  of  the 
lepers  to  bring  them  ease.  The  nursing 
of  the  sick  and  the  feeding  of  the  poor, 
had  indeed  from  the  first  been  natural 
activities  of  the  Children  of  Ramkrishna. 
But  when  the  Swami  Vivekananda  returned 
from  the  West  these  things  took  on  a 
larger  aspect.  They  were  considered  from 
a  national  point  of  view.  Men  would  be 
sent  out  from  the  Monastery  to  give  relief 
in  famine-stricken  areas,  to  direct  the  sanita- 
tion of  a  town,  or  to  nurse  the  sick  and  dying 
at  a  pilgrim  centre.  One  man  started  an 
orphanage  and  industrial  school  at  Murshida- 
bad.  Another  established  a  teaching  nucleus 
in  the  South.  These  were,  said  the  Swami, 
the  'sappers  and  miners'  of  the  army  of 
religion.  His  schemes  however  went  much 
further.  He  was  consumed  with  a  desire 


for  the  education  of  Indian  women,  and  for 
the  scientific  and  technical  education  of  the 
country.  How  the  impersonal  motive 
multiplies  the  power  to  suffer,  only  those 
who  have  seen  can  judge.  Was  his  life 
indeed  a  failure,  as  he  was  sometimes  tempt- 
ed to  feel  it,  since  there  never  came  to 
his  hands  that  "twenty  million  pounds" 
with  which,  as  he  used  to  say,  he  could  have 
set  India  on  her  feet  ?  Or  were  there 
higher  laws  at  work,  that  would  eventually 
make  a  far  greater  success  than  any  that 
could  have  been  gathered  within  a  single 
lifetime  ? 

His  view  was  penetrative  as  well  as 
comprehensive.  He  had  analyzed  the  ele- 
ments of  the  development  to  be  brought 
about.  India  must  learn  a  new  ideal  of  obe- 
dience. The  Math  was  placed,  therefore,  on 
a  basis  of  organization  which  was  contrary  to 
all  the  current  ideas  of  religious  freedom.  A 
thousand  new  articles  of  use  must  be  assimi- 



lated.  Therefore,  though  his  own  habits 
were  of  the  simplest,  two  or  three  rooms  were 
provided  with  furniture.  Digging,  garden- 
ing, rowing,  gymnastic  exercises,  the  keeping 
of  animals,  all  these  were  by  degrees  made  a 
part  of  the  life  of  the  young  brahmachartns 
and  himself.  And  he  would  throw  a  world  of 
enthusiasm  into  a  long  course  of  experiments 
on  such  problems  as  the  sinking  of  a  well  or 
the  making  of  brown  bread.  On  the  last 
Charok  Puja  day  of  his  life  a  gymnastic  society 
came  to  the  Math  for  sports  and  prizes,  and  he 
spoke  of  his  desire  that  the  Hindu  Lent 
should  be  celebrated  henceforth  by  special 
courses  of  athletic  exercises.  The  energy 
which  had  hitherto  gone  into  the  mortifica- 
tion of  the  body,  might  rightly,  in  his 
opinion,  under  modern  conditions,  be  direct- 
ed to  the  training  of  the  muscles. 

To  a  western  mind,  it  might  well  seem 
that  nothing  in  the  Swami's  life  had  been 
more  admirable  than  this.  Long  ago,  he 



had  defined  the  mission  of  the  Order  of  Rama- 
krishna  as  that  of  realizing  and  exchanging 
the  highest  ideals  of  the  East  and  of  the  West. 
And  assuredly  he  here  proved  his  own 
power  to  engage  in  such  an  undertaking 
as  much  by  his  gift  of  learning  as  by  that 
of  teaching.  But  it  was  inevitable  that 
he  himself  should  from  time  to  time  go 
through  the  anguish  of  revolt.  The  Hindu 
ideal  of  the  religious  life,  as  a  reflection 
on  earth  of  that  of  the  Great  God  in  the 
Divine  Empyrean, — the  Unmoving,  the  Un- 
touched, "pure,  free,  ever  the  Witness, "- 
is  so  clear  and  so  deeply  established  that  only 
at  great  cost  to  himself  could  a  man  carry 
it  into  a  fresh  channel.  Has  any  one 
realized  the  pain  endured  by  the  sculptor 
of  a  new  ideal  ?  The  very  sensitiveness 
and  delicacy  of  perception  that  are  neces- 
sary to  his  task,  that  very  moral  exaltation 
which  is  as  the  chisel  in  his  hand,  are 
turned  on  himself  in  passive  moments,  to 



become  doubt,  and  terror  of  responsibility. 
What  a  heaven  of  ease  seems  then,  to  such 
a  soul,  even  the  hardest  and  sternest  of 
those  lives  that  are  understood  and  authenti- 
cated by  the  imitative  moral  sense  of  the 
•crowd  !  I  have  noticed  in  most  experiences 
this  consciousness  of  being  woven  out  of 
two  threads,  one  that  is  chosen  and  another 
endured.  But  in  this  case  the  common 
duality  took  the  form  of  a  play  upon  two 
different  ideals,  of  which  either  was  highest 
in  its  own  world,  and  yet  each,  to  those  who 
believed  in  its  fellow,  almost  as  a  crime. 

Occasionally,  to  one  who  was  much  with 
him,  a  word,  let  fall  unconsciously,  would 
betray  the  inner  conflict.  He  was  riding 
on  one  occasion,  with  the  Rajah  of  Khetri, 
when  he  saw  that  his  arm  was  bleeding  pro- 
fusely, and  found  that  the  wound  had  been  caus- 
ed by  a  thorny  branch  which  he  had  held  aside 
for  himself  to  pass.  When  the  Swami  ex- 
postulated, the  Rajput  laughed  the  matter 



aside,  "  Are  we  not  always  the  Defenders  of 
the  Faith,  Swamiji  ?"  he  said.  "And  then," 
said  the  Swami,  telling  the  story,  I  was  just 
going  to  tell  him  that  they  ought  not  to  show 
such  honour  to  the  Sannyasin,  when  sud- 
denly I  thought  that  perhaps  they  were 
right  after  all.  Who  knows  ?  May  be  I 
too  am  caught  in  the  glare  of  this  flashlight 
of  your  modern  civilisation,  which  is  only 
for  a  moment."  " — I  have  become  entan- 
gled," he  said  simply,  to  one  who  protested 
that  to  his  mind  the  wandering  Sadku  of 
earlier  years,  who  had  scattered  his  know- 
ledge and  changed  his  name  as  he  went, 
had  been  greater  than  the  Abbot  of  Belur, 
burdened  with  much  work  and  many  cares, 
"  I  have  become  entangled."  And  I  remem- 
ber the  story  told  by  an  American  woman, 
who  said  she  could  not  bear  to  remember 
his  face,  at  that  moment  when  her  husband 
explained  to  this  strange  guest  that  he  must 
make  his  way  from  their  home  to  Chicago 



with  money  which  would  be  paid  gladly  to 
hear  him  speak  of  religion.  "  It  was,"  she 
said  "as  if  something  had  just  broken 
within  him,  that  could  never  again  be  made 
whole."  One  day  he  was  talking,  in  the 
West,  of  Meera  Bae, — that  saint  who  once 
upon  a  time  was  Queen  of  Chitore, — and  of 
the  freedom  her  husband  had  offered  her,  if  on- 
ly she  would  remain  within  the  royal  seclusion. 
But  she  could  not  be  bound.  "  But  why 
should  she  not?"  some  one  asked,  in  asto- 
nishment. "  Why  should  she?"  he  retorted. 
"  Was  she  living  down  here  in  this  mire  ?" 
And  suddenly  the  listener  caught  his 
thought,  of  the  whole  nexus  of  the  personal 
life,  with  its  inter-relations  and  reaction 
upon  reactions,  as  intolerable  bondage  and 
living  anguish. 

And  so,  side  by  side  with  that 
sunlit  serenity  and  child-like  peace  which 
enwrapped  the  Swami  as  a  religious  teac'i:-;r, 
I  found  in  his  own  country  another  point 



of  view,  from  which  he  was  very,  very 
human.  And  here,  though  the  results  of 
his  efforts  may  have  been  choicer,  or  more 
enduring,  than  those  of  most  of  us,  yet  they 
were  wrought  at  the  self-same  cost  of  having 
to  toil  on  in  darkness  and  uncertainty,  and 
only  now  and  then  emerging  into  light.  Often 
dogged  by  the  sense  of  failure,  often  over- 
taken by  a  loathing  of  the  limitations 
imposed  alike  by  the  instrument  and  the 
material,  he  dared  less  and  less,  as  years 
went  on,  to  make  determinate  plans,  or  to 
dogmatize  about  the  unknown.  "  After  all, 
what  do  we  know?"  he  said  once,  "Mother 
uses  it  all.  But  we  are  only  fumbling 

This  has  not  perhaps  been  an  element 
in  the  lives  of  the  great  teachers  on  which 
their  narrators  have  cared  to  dwell  much. 
Yet  one  catches  a  hint  of  it  in  the  case  of 
Sri  Ramakrishna,  when  we  are  told  how  he 
turned  on  God  with  the  reproach,  "Oh  Mother ! 



what  is  this  You  have  brought  me  to  ?  All 
my  heart  is  centred  in  these  lads !"  And  in 
the  eleventh  chapter  of  the  Dhammapada 
one  can  see  still,  though  twenty-four 
centuries  have  passed  since  then,  the  wave- 
marks  of  similar  storms  on  the  shores  of 
the  consciousness  of  another  Teacher.* 

There  was  one  thing  however,  deep  in 
the  Master's  nature,  that  he  himself  never 
knew  how  to  adjust.  This  was  his  love 
of  his  country  and  his  resentment  of  her 
suffering.  Throughout  those  years  in  which 
I  saw  him  almost  daily,  the  thought  of  India 
was  to  him  like  the  air  he  breathed.  True, 
he  was  a  worker  at  foundations.  He  neither 
used  the  word  'nationality,'  nor  proclaimed  an 
era  of 'nation-making'.  'Man-making',  he  said, 

*  Seeking  for  the  maker  of  this  tabernacle,  and  not  finding, 
I  must  run  through  a  course  of  many  births  ;  and  painful  is  birth 
again  and  again.  But  now,  maker  of  the  tabernacle,  thou  hast  been 
seen  !  Thou  shall  not  again  build  up  this  tabernacle.  All  thy 
rafters  are  fallen.  Thy  ridge-pole  is  broken.  The  mind,  ap- 
proaching the  Eternal,  has  attained  to  the  extinction  of  all  desires. 



was  his  own  task.  But  he  was  born  a 
lover,  and  the  queen  of  his  adoration 
was  his  Motherland.  Like  some  delicately- 
poised  bell,  thrilled  and  vibrated  by  every 
sound  that  falls  upon  it,  was  his  heart 
to  all  that  concerned  her.  Not  a  sob 
was  heard  within  her  shores  that  did 
not  find  in  him  a  responsive  echo.  There 
was  no  cry  of  fear,  no  tremor  of  weak- 
ness, no  shrinking  from  mortification,  that 
he  had  not  known  and  understood.  He 
was  hard  on  her  sins,  unsparing  of  her 
want  of  worldly  wisdom,  but  only  because  he 
felt  these  faults  to  be  his  own.  And 
none,  on  the  contrary,  was  ever  so  possessed 
by  the  vision  of  her  greatness.  To  him, 
she  appeared  as  the  giver  of  English  civilsa- 
tion.  For  what,  he  would  ask,  had  been  the 
England  of  Elizabeth  in  comparison  with 
the  India  of  Akbar  ?  Nay,  what  would 
the  England  of  Victoria  have  been,  without 
the  wealth  of  India,  behind  her  ?  Where  would 


have  been  her  refinement  ?  where  would 
have  been  her  experience  ?  His  country's 
religion,  history,  geography,  ethnology,  pour- 
ed from  his  lips  in  an  inexhaustible  stream. 
With  equal  delight  he  treated  of  details 
and  of  the  whole,  or  so  it  would  often  seem 
to  those  who  listened.  Indeed  there  would 
sometimes  come  a  point  where  none  who 
wished  to  remember  what  had  been  said 
already,  could  afford  to  listen  any  longer. 
And  still,  with  mind  detached,  one 
might  note  the  unwearied  stream  of 
analysis  of  the  laws  regarding  female  in- 
heritance, or  the  details  of  caste  customs 
in  different  provinces,  or  some  abstruse 
system  of  metaphysics  or  theology,  pro- 
ceeding on  and  on  for  a  couple  of  hours 

In  these  talks  of  his,  the  heroism  of 
the  Rajput,  the  faith  of  the  Sikh,  the 
courage  of  the  Mahratta,  the  devotion  of 
the  saints,  and  the  purity  and  steadfast- 



ness  of  noble  women,  all  lived  again. 
Nor  would  he  permit  that  the  Moham- 
medan should  be  passed  over.  Huma- 
yoon,  Sher  Shah,  Akbar,  Shah  Jehan, 
each  of  these,  and  a  hundred  more,  found 
a  day  and  a  place  in  his  bead-roll  of  glisten- 
ing names.  Now  it  was  that  coronation 
song  of  Akbar  which  is  still  sung 
about  the  streets  of  Delhi,  that  he  would 
give  us,  in  the  very  tone  and  rhythm 
of  Thanasena.  Again,  he  would  ex- 
plain how  the  widows  of  the  Mogul 
House  never  remarried,  but  lived  like 
Hindu  women,  absorbed  in  worship  or 
in  study,  through  the  lonely  years.  At 
another  time  he  would  talk  of  the  great 
national  genius  that  decreed  the  birth  of 
Indian  sovereigns  to  be  of  a  Moslem 
father  and  of  a  Hindu  mother.  And 
yet  again  he  would  hold  us  breathless,  as 
we  lived  through  with  him  the  bright, 
but  ill-starred  reign,  of  Sirajud-Daulah ; 


as  we  heard  the  exclamation  at  Plassy 
of  the  Hindu  general,  listening  to  an 
order  sent  in  treachery,  "  Then  is  the 
day  lost ! "  and  saw  him  plunge,  with  his 
horse,  into  the  Ganges ;  as,  finally,  we 
lingered  with  the  faithful  wife,  clad  in 
the  white  sari  of  the  widow  amongst 
her  own  people,  through  long  years  tend- 
ing the  lamp  above  the  grave  of  her 
dead  lord. 

Sometimes  the  talk  would  be  more 
playful  It  would  arise  out  of  some 
commonplace  incident.  The  offering  of 
a  sweetmeat,  or  the  finding  of  a  rare 
commodity  like  musk  or  saffron,  or  events 
simpler  still,  would  be  enough  to  start  it. 
He  told  us  how  he  had  longed,  when 
in  the  West,  to  stand  once  more  at  dusk 
some  little  way  outside  an  Indian  village 
and  hear  again  the  evening  calls, — the 
noise  of  children  growing  sleepy  at  their 
play,  the  evensong  bells,  the  cries  of  the 



herdsmen,  and  the  half-veiled  sound  of 
voices  through  the  quickly-passing  twilight 
How  homesick  he  had  been  for  the 
sound  of  the  July  rains,  as  he  had  known 
them  in  his  childhood  in  Bengal !  How 
wonderful  was  the  sound  of  water,  in  rain, 
or  waterfall,  or  sea !  The  most  beautiful 
sight  he  could  remember  was  a  mother  whom 
he  had  seen,  passing  from  stepping-stone  to 
stepping-stone  across  a  mountain  brook,  and 
turning  as  she  went,  to  play  with  and 
caress  the  baby  on  her  back.  The  ideal 
death  would  be  to  lie  on  a  ledge  of  rock 
in  the  midst  of  Himalayan  forests,  and 
hear  the  torrent  beneath,  as  one  passed 
out  of  the  body,  chanting  eternally  'Hara! 
Hara!  The  Free!  The  Free!' 

Like  some  great  spiral  of  emotion,  its 
lowest  circles  held  fast  in  love  of  soil 
and  love  of  nature  ;  its  next  embracing 
every  possible  association  of  race,  experi- 
ence, history,  and  thought  ;  and  the 



whole  converging  and  centring  upon  a 
single  definite  point,  was  thus  the  Swami's 
worship  of  his  own  land.  And  the  point 
in  which  it  was  focussed  was  the  convic- 
tion that  India  was  not  old  and  effete, 
as  her  critics  had  supposed,  but  young, 
ripe  with  potentiality,  and  standing,  at 
the  beginning  of  the  twentieth  century, 
on  the  threshold  of  even  greater  deve- 
lopments than  she  had  known  in  the 
past.  Only  once,  however,  do  I  remem- 
ber him  to  have  given  specific  utterance 
to  this  thought.  "  I  feel  myself"  he  said 
in  a  moment  of  great  quiet,  "  to  be  the 
man  born  after  many  centuries.  /  see 
that  India  is  young."  But  in  truth  this 
vision  was  implied  in  every  word  he 
ever  spoke.  It  throbbed  in  every  story 
he  told.  And  when  he  would  lose  him- 
self, in  splendid  scorn  of  apology  for  any- 
thing Indian,  in  fiery  repudiation  of  false 
charge  or  contemptuous  criticism,  or  in 



laying  down  for  others  the  elements  of 
a  faith  and  love  that  could  never  be 
more  than  a  pale  reflection  of  his  own, 
how  often  did  the  habit  of  the  monk 
seem  to  slip  away  from  him,  and 
the  armour  of  the  warrior  stand  re- 
vealed ! 

But  it  is  not  to  be  supposed  that  he 
was  unaware  of  the  temptation  which  all 
this  implied.  His  Master  had  said  of 
him,  in  the  years  of  his  first  discipleship, 
"  It  is  true  that  there  is  a  film  of  igno- 
rance upon  his  mind.  My  Mother  has 
placed  it  there,  that  Her  work  may  be 
done.  And  it  is  thin,  as  thin  as  a  sheet 
of  tissue  paper.  It  might  be  rent  at  any 
moment ! "  And  so,  as  one  who  has  for- 
sworn them  will  struggle  against  thoughts 
of  home  and  family,  he  would  endeavour, 
time  and  again,  to  restrain  and  suppress 
these  thoughts  of  country  and  history,  and 
to  make  of  himself  only  that  poor  religious 


wanderer,  to  whom  all  countries  and  all 
races  should  be  alike.  He  came  back,  in 
Kashmir,  from  one  of  the  great  experiences 
of  his  life,  saying,  with  the  simplicity  of  a 
child,  "There  must  be  no  more  of  this  anger. 
Mother  said  '  What,  even  if  the  unbeliever 
should  enter  My  temples,  and  defile 
My  images,  what  is  that  to  you  ?  Do 


His  personal  ideal  was  that  sannyasin 
of  the  Mutiny,  who  was  stabbed  by  an 
English  soldier,  and  broke  the  silence  of 
fifteen  years  to  say  to  his  murderer  " — 
And  thou  also  art  He !" 

He  was  always  striving  to  be  faith- 
ful to  the  banner  of  Ramkrishna,  and  the 
utterance  of  a  message  of  his  own  seemed 
often  to  strike  him  as  a  lapse.  Besides, 
he  believed  that  force  spent  in  mere  emo- 
tion was  dissipated,  only  force  restrained 
being  conserved  for  expression  in  work. 
Yet  again  the  impulse  to  give  all  he  had 



would  overtake  him,  and  before  he  knew  it, 
he  would  once  more  be  scattering  those 
thoughts  of  hope  and  love  for  his  race 
and  for  his  country,  which,  apparently 
without  his  knowledge,  fell  in  so  many 
cases  like  seed  upon  soil  prepared  for  it, 
and  have  sprung  up  already,  in  widely 
distant  parts  of  India,  into  hearts  and 
lives  of  devotion  to  the  Motherland.  Just 
as  Sri  Ramakrishna,  in  fact,  without 
knowing  any  books,  had  been  a  living 
epitome  of  the  Vedanta  so  was  Viveka- 
nanda  of  the  national  life.  But  of  the 
theory  of  this,  he  was  unconscious.  In 
his  own  words,  applied  to  his  own  Mas- 
ter, "He  was  contented  simply  to  live 
that  great  life,  and  to  leave  it  to  others 
to  find  the  explanation !" 




It  was  amongst  the  lawns  and  trees  of 
the  Ganges-side  that  I  came  to  know,  in 
a  personal  sense,  the  leader  to  whose  work 
my  life  was  already  given.  At  the  time  of 
my  landing  in  India  (January  28th.  1898), 
the  ground  and  building  had  just  been  pur- 
chased at  Belur,  which  were  afterwards 
to  be  transformed  into  the  Calcutta  Monastery 
of  the  Order  of  Ramakrishna.  A  few 
weeks  later  still,  a  party  of  friends  arrived 
from  America,  and  with  characteristic  in- 
trepidity took  possession  of  the  half-ruined 
cottage,  to  make  it  simply  but  pleasantly 
habitable.  It  was  as  the  guest  of  these 
friends,  here  at  Belur,  and  later,  travelling  in 
Kumaon  and  in  Kashmir,  that  I  began,  with 



them,  the  study  of  India,  and  something1 
also  of  the  home-aspects  and  relationships 
of  the  Swami's  own  life. 

Our  cottage  stood  on  a  low  terrace, 
built  on  the  western  bank  of  the  river,  a  few 
miles  above  Calcutta.  At  flood-tide  the 
little  gondola-like  boat, — which  to  those 
who  live  beside  the  Ganges  serves  the 
purpose  of  a  carriage, — could  come  up  to  the 
very  foot  of  the  steps,  and  the  river  between 
us  and  the  opposite  village,  was  from  half 
to  three-quarters  of  a  mile  broad.  A  mile 
or  so  further  up  the  eastern  bank,  could  be 
seen  the  towers  and  trees  of  Dakshineswar, 
that  temple-garden  in  which  the  Swami 
and  his  brothers  had  once  been  boys,  at 
the  feet  of  Ramakrishna  Paramahamsa. 
The  house  which  was  in  actual  use  at 
that  time  as  the  Monastery,  lay  some  half 
mile  or  so  to  the  south  of  our  cottage, 
and  between  us  and  it  were  several  other 
garden-houses,  and  at  least  one  ravine,  cross- 



ed  by  a  doubtful-looking  plank  made  out  of 
half  of  the  stem  of  a  palm  tree.  To  our 
cottage  here,  then,  came  the  Swami  daily,  at 
sunrise,  alone  or  accompanied  by  some  of  his 
brothers.  And  here,  under  the  trees,  long 
after  our  early  breakfast  was  ended,  we  might 
still  be  found  seated,  listening  to  that 
inexhaustible  flow  of  interpretation,  broken 
but  rarely  by  question  and  answer,  in  which 
he  would  reveal  to  us  some  of  the  deepest 
secrets  of  the  Indian  world.  I  am  struck 
afresh  whenever  I  turn  back  upon  this 
memory,  by  the  wonder  as  to  how  such 
-a  harvest  of  thought  and  experience  could 
possibly  have  been  garnered,  or  how,  when 
once  ingathered,  could  have  come  such 
energy  of  impulse  for  its  giving-forth. 
Amongst  brilliant  conversationalists,  the 
Swami  was  peculiar  in  one  respect.  He  was 
never  known  to  show  the  slightest  impa- 
tience at  interruption.  He  was  by  no  means 
indifferent  as  to  the  minds  he  was  address- 



ing.  His  deepest  utterances  were  heard 
only  in  the  presence  of  such  listeners 
as  brought  a  subtle  sympathy  and  reverence 
into  the  circle  about  him.  But  I  do  not 
think  he  was  himself  aware  of  this,  and 
certainly  no  external  circumstance  seemed 
to  have  power  to  ruffle  him.  Moods  of 
storm  and  strength  there  were  in 
plenty  ;  but  they  sprang,  like  those  of  sweet- 
ness, from  hidden  sources  ;  they  were  entire- 
ly general  and  impersonal  in  their  occasion. 

It  was  here  that  we  learnt  the  great  out- 
standing watchwords  and  ideals  of  the 
Indian  striving.  For  the  talks  were,  above 
all,  an  exposition  of  ideals.  Facts  and 
illustrations  were  gathered,  it  is  true, 
from  history,  from  literature,  and  from  a 
thousand  other  sources.  But  the  purpose 
was  always  the  same,  to  render  some 
Indian  ideal  of  perfection  clearer.  Nor 
were  these  ideals  always  so  comprehensible 
as  might  have  been  supposed.  This  was  a 



world  in  which  concentration  of  mind  was 
the  object  of  more  deliberate  cultivation  than 
even  the  instincts  of  benevolence  could  require, 
but  the  time  was  not  yet  come  in  which  this 
was  to  be  argued  as  for  or  against  India. 
The  attainment  of  the  impersonal  standpoint 
was  boldly  proposed,  in  matters  personal 
"Be  the  Witness  !"  was  a  command  heard 
oftener  than  that  which  bids  us  pray  for  our 
enemies  The  idea  of  recognizing  an 
enemy  would  have  seemed  to  this  mind  a 
proof  of  hatred.  Love  was  not  love,  it  was 
insisted,  unless  it  was  'without  a  reason,' 
or  without  a  'motive,'  as  a  western  speaker 
might  have  attempted,  though  perhaps  with 
less  force,  to  express  the  same  idea.  Purity 
and  renunciation  were  analyzed  untiringly. 
The  Great  God,  tempted  by  nothing — not 
kingship  nor  fatherhood  ;  not  wealth  nor 
pleasure  ; — in  all  the  worlds  He  had  created, 
proving  on  the  contrary,  in  matters  worldly, 
'a  very  simple  fellow,'  incurious,  easily 



deceived,  and  begging  His  daily  handful 
of  rice  from  door  to  door,  shone  through  all 
our  dreams.  Titiksha,  or  non -correction  of 
evil,  was  a  mark  of  the  religious  life, 
and  of  this  we  might  find  a  western 
example  in  that  monk  who  was  a  leper, 
and  who,  when  the  maggots  fell  from 
his  finger-joints,  stooped  and  replaced 
them,  saying,  "Eat  brothers  !"  The  vision 
of  Raghunath  was  one  of  the  perfec- 
tions of  the  soul,  and  that  saint  had 
had  it,  who  fainted,  when  the  bullocks 
were  beaten  in  his  presence,  while  on 
his  back  were  found  the  weals  made 
by  the  lash.  We  were  even  called  upon 
to  understand  a  thought  immeasurably 
foreign  to  all  our  past  conceptions  of 
religion,  in  which  sainthood  finds  expres- 
sion in  an  unconsciousness  of  the  body, 
so  profound  that  the  saint  is  unaware 
that  he  goes  naked.  For  that  delicate 
discrimination  of  a  higher  significance 



in  certain  cases  of  nudity,  which,  in 
Europe,  finds  its  expression  in  art,  in 
India  finds  it  in  religion.  As  we,  in 
the  presence  of  a  Greek  statue,  ex- 
perience only  reverence  for  the  ideal  of 
beauty,  so  the  Hindu  sees  in  the  naked 
saint  only  a  glorified  and  childlike  purity. 

There  was  one  aspiration,  however, 
which  was  held,  in  this  new  thought- 
world,  to  be  of  the  same  sovereign 
and  universal  application  in  the  religious 
life  as  that  of  the  concentration  of  the 
mind.  This  was  the  freedom  of  the 
individual  soul,  including  all  the  minor 
rights  of  thought,  opinion,  and  action. 
Here  lay  the  one  possession  that  the 
monk  was  jealously  to  guard  as  his  own, 
the  one  property  on  which  he  must 
brook  the  foot  of  no  intruder ;  and  as 
I  watched  the  working  out  of  this,  in 
daily  life,  I  saw  that  it  amounted  to  a 
form  of  renunciation.  To  accept  nothing, 



however  pleasant,  if  it  concealed  a  fetter  ; 
at  a  word  to  stand  ready  to  sever  any 
connection  that  gave  a  hint  of  bondage  ; 
how  clear  must  be  the  mind  that  would 
do  this,  how  pure  the  will !  And  yet 
this  ideal,  too,  was  eloquent  of  many 
things.  One  could  not  help  seeing  that 
it  accounted  for  the  comparative  non- 
development  of  monasticism  in  India, 
for  the  fact  that  the  highest  types  of 
the  religious  life,  in  the  past,  had  been 
solitary,  whether  as  hermits  or  wander- 
ers. In  the  monastery  beside  us  there 
were  men,  as  we  were  told,  who  did 
not  approve  of  their  leader's  talking 
with  women  ;  there  were  others  who  objected 
to  all  rites  and  ceremonies ;  the  religion 
of  one  might  be  described  as  atheism 
tempered  by  hero-worship  ;  that  of  another 
led  him  to  a  round  of  practices  which 
to  most  of  us  would  constitute  an  into- 
lerable burden  ;  some  lived  in  a  world 



of  saints,  visions  and  miracles  ;  others 
again  could  not  away  with  such  nonsense, 
but  must  needs  guide  themselves  by  the 
coldest  logic.  The  fact  that  all  these 
could  be  bound  together  in  a  close  con- 
fraternity, bore  silent  witness  to  their 
conception  of  the  right  of  the  soul  to 
choose  its  own  path.  It  also,  as  I  could 
not  help  thinking,  both  then  and  after, 
accounted  for  the  failure,  in  certain  res- 
pects, of  the  old  Indian  forms  of  authority. 
For,  in  order  that  the  highest  and  most 
disinterested  characters  may  throw  them- 
selves into  the  work  of  the  city  and  the 
state,  it  is  surely  necessary  that  they 
should  sincerely  hold  the  task  of  such 
organisation  to  be  the  highest  and  most 
honourable  which  they  could  aspire  to 
carry  out.  In  the  India  of  the  past, 
however,  the  best  men  had  been  too  cons- 
cious of  the  more  remote  spiritual  ideals,  and 
amongst  them,  of  this  conception  of  freedom, 



to  be  capable  of  such  an  enthusiasm  for  the 
assertion  of  the  civic  and  national  discipline. 
And  we  cannot  wonder  that  in  spite  of  the 
existence  of  ability  and  character,  certain 
advantages  of  the  modern  system  have  thus 
been  left  for  the  moderns  to  demonstrate. 
That  Hinduism,  nevertheless,  is  capable 
enough  of  adding  to  her  development  that 
of  the  inspiration  and  sustenance  of  such 
activities,  is  shown,  as  I  believe,  in  the  very 
fact  of  the  rise  of  Ramakrishna  and  his 
disciple  Vivekananda,  with  their  characteris- 
tic contribution  to  the  national  thought. 

It  was  perhaps  as  an  instance  of  that 
'exchange  of  ideals'  which  he  had  ever  in 
mind,  that  the  Swami  gravely  warned  us 
again  and  again,  as  the  great  fault  of  the 
Western  character,  against  making  any  at- 
tempt to  force  upon  others  that  whieh  we 
had  merely  found  to  be  good  for  ourselves. 
And  yet  at  the  same  time,  when  asked  by 
some  of  his  own  people  what  he  considered, 



after  seeing  them  in  their  own  country,  to  be 
the  greatest  achievement  of  the  English,  he 
answered,  'that  they  had  known  how  to 
combine  obedience  with  self-respect'. 

But  it  was  not  the  Swami  alone  whom 
we  saw  at  Belur.  We  were  accounted  by 
the  monastery  as  a  whole,  as  its  guests.  So 
back  and  forth  would  toil  the  hospitable 
monks,  on  errands  of  kindness  and  service 
for  us.  They  milked  the  cow  that  gave  us- 
our  supply,  and  when  the  servant  whose 
duty  it  was  at  nightfall  to  carry  the  milk, 
was  frightened  by  the  sight  of  a  cobra  in  the 
path,  jand  refused  to  go  again,  it  was  one  of 
the  monks  themselves  who  took  his  place  in 
this  humble  office.  Some  novice  would  be 
deputed  daily,  to  deal  with  the  strange  pro- 
blems of  our  Indian  house-keeping.  Another 
was  appointed  to  give  Bengali  lessons.  Visits 
of  ceremony  and  of  kindness  were  frequently 
paid  us  by  the  older  members  of  the  commu- 
nity. And  finally,  when  the  Swami  Viveka- 



nanda  himself  was  absent  for  some  weeks  on 
a  journey,  his  place  was  always  duly  taken  at 
the  morning  tea-table  by  some  one  or 
.another  who  felt  responsible  for  the  happi- 
ness and  entertainment  of  his  guests.  In 
these  and  a  thousand  similar  ways,  we  came 
in  touch  with  those  who  could  reveal  to  us  the 
shining  memory  that  formed  the  warp,  on 
which,  as  woof,  were  woven  all  these  lives  of 

For  they  had  only  one  theme,  these 
monastic  visitants  of  ours,  and  that  was  their 
Master  Sri  Ramakrishna  and  his  great 
disciple.  The  Swami  had  now  been  back 
with  them  for  thirteen  or  fourteen  months 
only,  and  scarcely  yet  had  they  recovered 
from  their  first  pleasure  and  surprise. 
Before  that  he  had  been  practically  lost  to 
,them  for  some  six  years.  It  was  true  that  of 
late  he  had  corresponded  with  them  freely, 
.and  that  for  no  time  had  they  been,  long, 
.altogether  off  his  track.  And  yet,  when  his 



first  success  in  America  had  been  heard  of,, 
most  of  his  brethren  had  had  only  their  con- 
fidence in  the  great  mission  foretold  by  his 
Master,  to  tell  them  that  it  was  he. 

Those  who  have  witnessed  here  or  there 
some  great  life  of  asceticism,  will  recognise 
a  mood  of  passionate  longing  to  lose  one's 
own  identity,  to  be  united  with  the  lowliest  and 
most  hidden  things,  to  go  forth  from  amongst 
men,  and  be  no  more  remembered  by  them, 
as  an  element  in  the  impulse  of  renunciation. 
This  it  is  which  explains,  as  I  think,  the  long 
silence  and  seclusion  in  caves  ;  the  garb  of 
mud  and  ashes,  so  often  worn  as  a  man  wan- 
ders from  forest  to  forest,  and  village  to  village; 
and  a  thousand  other  features  of  this  type  of 
religion,  which  to  the  Western  onlooker 
might  seem  inexplicable.  This  mood  would 
seem  to  have  been  much  with  the  Swami  in 
the  early  years  after  the  passingof  his  Master. 
And  again  and  again  he  must  have  left 
the  little  band  of  brethren,  in  the  hope  never 



to  be  heard  of  more.  Once  he  was  brought 
back  from  such  an  expedition  by  the  com- 
munity itself,  who  heard  that  he  was  lying-  ill 
at  a  place  called  Hathras,  and  send  to  take 
him  home.  For  such  was  the  love  that 
bound  them  all  to  each  other,  and  espe- 
cially to  him,  that  they  could  not  rest  without 
nursing  him  themselves.  A  few  months 
later  he  was  followed  to  the  monastery  by  a 
disciple  whom  he  had  called  to  himself 
during  his  wanderings.  This  man's  name, 
in  religion,  was  Sadananda,  and  from  his 
account,  with  its  strong  broken  English,  I 
glean  the  record  of  the  life  that  was  lived  at 
this  period  in  the  monastery.  When  he  ar- 
rived— it  had  taken  him  some  two  or  three 
months,  by  means  of  railway  service,  to  earn 
his  way  to  Calcutta  from  his  old  home — he 
found  the  Swami  on  the  point  of  setting  out 
once  more.  But  for  his  sake  this  journey 
was  abandoned,  and  the  departure  that  was 
to  have  taken  place  that  evening  did  not 


occur  till  twelve  months  later.  "The  Swami's 
mission  began  with  me,"  says  this  first 
disciple  proudly,  referring  to  this  time. 

During  this  year,  he  the  Master,  "would 
work  twenty-four  hours  at  a  time.  He  was 
lunatic-like,  he  was  so  busy!"  Early  in  the 
morning,  while  it  was  still  dark,  he  would 
rise  and  call  the  others,  singing,  "Awake ! 
Awake  !  all  ye  who  would  drink  of  the  divine 
nectar  !"  Then  all  would  proceed  to  medita- 
tion, afterwards  drifting  almost  unconsciously 
into  singing  and  talking,  which  would  last 
till  noon,  or  even  later.  From  hymns  and 
chanting  they  would  pass  into  history.  Some- 
times it  would  be  the  story  of  Ignatius 
Loyola  ;  again  Joan  of  Are,  or  the  Rani  of 
Jhansi  ;  and  yet  again  the  Swami  would 
recite  long  passages  from  Carlyle's  French 
Revolution,  and  they  would  all  sway  them- 
selves backwards  and  forwards  dreamily, 
repeating  together  "Vive  la  Republique!  Vive 
la  Republique !"  Or  the  subject  of  their 



reveries  might  be  S.  Francis  of  Assisi,  and 
with  the  same  unconscious  instinct  of  the 
•dramatist,  they  would  lose  themselves  in  an 
endless  identification  with  his  "Welcome, 
Sister  Death  !"  It  might  perhaps  be  one  or  two 
o'clock  when  Ramakrishnananda — the  cook, 
housekeeper,  and  ritualist  of  the  communi- 
ty— would  drive  them  all,  with  threats,  to 
bathe  and  eat.  But  after  this,  they  would 
"again  group" — again  would  go  on  the  song 
and  talk,  till  at  last  evening  had  come,  bring- 
ing with  it  the  time  for  the  two  hours  of 
Arrati  to  Sri  Ramakrishna.  As  often  as 
not,  even  this  would  scarcely  break  the 
absorption,  again  would  follow  song,  and 
talk  of  the  Master  ;  again  would  come  the 
trances  of  meditation.  Or  on  the  roof,  till 
long  after  midnight  it  might  be,  they  would 
sit  and  chant  ''Hail  Sita-Rama !"  The 
special  festivals  of  all  religions  brought  each 
their  special  forms  of  celebration.  At 
Christmas  time,  for  instance,  they  would  re- 



cline,  with  long  shepherds'  crooks,  around  a 
lighted  log,  and  talk  in  low  tones  of  the 
coming  of  the  angels  to  the  lonely  watchers 
by  their  flocks,  and  the  singing  of  the  world's 
first  Gloria.  Very  curious  is  the  story  of  how 
they  kept  Good  Friday.  Hour  after  hour  had 
gone  by,  and  they  had  risen  gradually  to- 
that  terrible  exaltation  of  spirit  which  comes 
to  those  who  give  themselves  to  that  day. 
Food  was  not  to  be  thought  of,  but  they  had 
contrived  to  have  by  them  a  few  grapes,  and 
the  juice  was  squeezed  out,  and  mixed  with 
water,  to  be  drunk  out  of  a  single  cup  by  all- 
in  the  midst  of  such  scenes,  the  voice  of  a 
European  was  heard  at  the  door,  calling  on 
them,  in  the  name  of  Christ.  With  inexpres- 
sible delight  they  swarmed  down  on  him, 
twelve  or  fifteen  men  of  them,  eager  to  hear 
of  the  day  from  the  lips  of  a  Christian. 
" — But  he  said  he  belonged  to  the  Salvation 
Army,  and  knew  nothing  about  Good  Friday. 
They  only  kept  General  Booth's  birthday,. 



and  something  else,  I  forget  what",  said 
Sadananda,  and  in  the  cloud  that  overcast 
the  face  and  voice  of  the  teller,  one  could 
realize  the  sudden  depression  that  fell,  at 
this  discovery,  upon  the  monks.  It  seems 
that  in  their  first  disappointment,  they 
snatched  his  Bible  from  the  unfortunate 
missionary,  saying  he  was  not  worthy  to  pos- 
sess it,  and  drove  him  forth.  It  is  said  how- 
ever that  one  of  their  number  stole  round  by 
another  door  and  brought  him  back  to  eat, 
and  have  his  property  secretly  restored 
to  him. 

"Those  were  hot  days,"  says  the  teller  of 
the  tale,  with  his  face  aglow,  "there  was  no 
minute  of  rest.  Outsiders  came  and  went, 
pundits  argued  and  discussed.  But,  he,  the 
Swami,  was  never  for  one  moment  idle,, 
never  dull.  Sometimes  he  was  left  alone  for 
a  while,  and  he  would  walk  up  and  down,, 
saying,  'Hari  bol !  bol !  bol !  Call  on  the 
Lord!  Call!  Call!'  or  'Oh  Mother!'  in  all 


these  ways  preparing  himself  for  his  great 
work.  And  I  watched  all  the  time  from  a 
distance,  and  in  some  interval  said,  'Sir, 
will  you  not  eat  ?' — always  to  be  answered 
playfully."  Sometimes  the  talk  took  place 
while  cooking  was  going  on,  or  during  the 
service  of  the  altar,  offices  in  which  all 
shared  without  distinction.  For  in  spite  of 
the  poverty  of  those  days,  many  came  to 
the  monks  to  be  fed.  Their  own  resources 
were  scanty.  They  had  only  one  piece  of 
.cloth  amongst  them  that  was  good  enough  to 
be  worn  across  the  shoulders,  outside  the 
monastery.  So  this  was  kept  on  a  line  and 
used  by  anyone  who  went  out.  And  they 
could  afford  no  more.  Yet  food  was  found 
somehow  for  the  poor  and  for  guests,  and 
many  came  for  help  or  teaching. 
They  begged  funds  enough  also,  to  buy 
.and  distribute  some  hundreds  of  copies 
of  the  Bhagavad  Gita,  and  the  Imita- 
tion, the  two  favourite  books  of  the  Order  at 



that  time.  "Silence,  all  ye  teachers!  And 
silence,  ye  prophets !  Speak  Thou  alone,  O 
Lord,  unto  my  soul !"  was,  years  after,  a 
sentence  that  the  Swami  quoted  at  a  venture 
as  all  that  he  then  remembered  of  Thomas  a 
Kempis.  For  it  is  perhaps  needless  to  say 
that  while  this  book  took  its  place  by  degrees 
amongst  experiences  remembered,  the  Gita 
grew  every  day  in  fulness  of  power  and 
beauty  in  the  minds  of  these  Hindu  children 
of  Ramakrishna. 

So  passed  some  twelve  months.  Then 
the  Swami  went  away  to  Ghazipur  to  visit 
Pavhari  Baba,*  that  saint  whom  he  always 
held  second  only  to  Ramakrishna.  He  came 
back  in  a  couple  of  months  to  share  the 
treasure  he  had  gained  with  others.  Sud- 
denly news  came  that  one  of  the  brothers,  by 
name  Yogananda,  was  lying  ill  with  small- 

*  Pavhari  Baba  was  a  saint  who  lived  near  Ghazipur.       He  died 
by  burning,  in  1898. 



pox  at  Allahabad,  and  a  party,  followed  by 
the  Swami,  started  to  nurse  him. 

At  Allahabad,  to  take  up  once  more 
Sadananda's  account,  many  days  were  passed 
in  religious  education.  It  was  as  if  Yoga- 
nanda's  sickness  had  been  a  mere  incident, 
.a  call  given  through  him,  and  the  whole 
town  came  and  went  in  a  great  stirring. 
Small  groups  would  enter  and  leave,  in  a 
^constant  succession,  for  days  and  nights  toge- 
ther, the  Swami  being  always  in  his  highest 
.and  greatest  mood.  On  one  occasion  he  saw  a 
Mohammedan  saint,  a  Paramahamsa,  "whose 
-every  line  and  curve  told  that  he  was  a 
Paramahamsa,"  and  this  was  the  occasion  of 
.a  great  hour. 

"Sometimes  naked,  sometimes  mad, 

Now  as  a  scholar,  again  as  a  fool, 

Here  a  rebel,  there  a  saint, 

Thus  they  appear  on  the  earth,  the 
Paramahamsas. " 

— So   repeating     "  The    Marks    of    the 



Paramahamsas "  from  the  Viveka  Chuda- 
moni  of  Sankaracharya,  there  passed,  as 
the  disciple  would  put  it,  "a  whole  night 
fermenting."  Such  experiences  lasted  per- 
haps for  two  weeks,  and  then  the  party  left 
Allahabad,  and  by  twos  and  threes  returned 
to  the  monastery,  in  the  village  of  Baranagore 
on  the  banks  of  the  Ganges.  But  now 
there  came  a  time,  in  the  year  1890,  when 
the  Swami  left  his  brothers,  not  to  return,  till 
the  great  triumph  of  the  year  1897. 

This  time  he  set  out  with  a  monk  known 
as  Akhandananda,  who  took  him  to  Almora 
and  left  him  there,  enjoying  the  hospitality 
of  a  family  who  had  formerly  befriended 
himself  on  a  journey  to  Thibet.  It  is  said 
that  on  the  way  up  the  mountains,  the  Swami 
one  day  fainted  with  hunger,  when  a  poor 
Mohammedan  found  him,  and  prepared 
and  gave  him  a  cucumber,  which  practically 
saved  his  life.  How  long  the  brothers  had 
been  without  food  I  do  not  know.  It  may 



have  been  that  at  this  time,  as  certainly  later,, 
he  was  under  the  vow  to  ask  for  nothing, 
waiting  always  for  food  and  drink  till  they 
were  offered.  He  told  some  one  who  knew 
him  during  that  period  and  questioned 
him,  that  the  longest  time  he  had  ever 
gone  without  food,  under  this  austerity,  was 
five  days. 

After  this,  the  thread  of  his  wanderings  was 
lost.  He  wrote  occasionally,  but  the  monks 
themselves  were  scattered.  'It  had  been 
so  dull  after  they  lost  him'!  says  the  narrator. 
And  even  the  first  home  had  to  be  abandon- 
ed, for  the  landlord  talked  of  rebuilding. 
There  was  one  monk,  however,  Rama- 
krishnananda  by  name,  who  would  not  leave 
the  ashes  of  their  Master,  but  vowed,  with 
rock-like  determination,  to  keep  a  roof  over- 
head, come  storm,  come  shine,  so  to  speak, 
for  them  and  for  his  brothers,  till  they 
should  all  foregather  in  their  worship-room 
once  more.  He,  then,  with  Nirmalananda, 



the  occasional  residence  of  one  Premananda,. 
and  the  new  member  of  the  fold,  'as  dish- 
washer', removed  to  a  house  some  distance 
away,  but  still  in  the  immediate  neighbour- 
hood of  Dakshineshwar,  and  the  monastery 
which  had  previously  been  at  Baranagore 
was  now  known  as  the  Alum  Bazar  Math. 
Akhandananda  at  this  time  was  always 
"chasing,"  always  in  pursuit  of  the  absent 
leader.  Every  now  and  then  he  would  hear 
of  him  in  some  town,  and  would  arrive  there, 
only  in  time  to  hear  that  he  was  gone,  leav- 
ing no  trace.  Once  the  Swami  Trigunatita 
found  himself  in  trouble  in  a  Guzerati  state, 
when  some  one  said  that  a  Bengali  Sadhu 
was  staying  with  the  Prime  Minister,  and  if 
he  appealed  to  him,  would  surely  give  him 
aid.  He  made  his  appeal,  and  found  that 
the  unknown  Sadhu  was  the  Swami  himself. 
But  he,  after  rendering  the  assistance  that  was 
needed,  sent  his  brother  onwards,  and  him- 
self proceeded  alone.  The  great  words  of 



Buddha,  constantly  quoted  by  him,  "Even 
as  the  lion,  not  trembling  at  noises,  even  as 
the  wind,  not  caught  in  a  net,  even  as  the 
lotus-leaf  untouched  by  the  water,  so  do  thou 
wander  alone,  like  the  rhinoceros  !:>  were  the 
guiding  principle  of  his  life  at  this  time. 

It  had  been  at  Almora,  as  we  now  know, 
that  news  reached  him,  of  the  death,  in  pitiful 
extremity,  of  the  favourite  sister  of  his 
childhood,  and  he  had  fled  into  the  wilder 
mountains,  leaving  no  clue.  To  one  who, 
years  after,  saw  deep  into  his  personal 
experience,  it  seemed  that  this  death  had  in- 
flicted on  the  Swami's  heart  a  wound,  whose 
quivering  pain  had  never  for  one  moment 
ceased.  And  we  may,  perhaps,  venture  to 
trace  some  part  at  least  of  his  burning  desire 
for  the  education  and  development  of  Indian 
women,  to  this  sorrow. 

At  this  time  he  passed  some  months  in  a 
cave  overhanging  a  mountain-village.  Only 
twice  have  I  known  him  to  allude  to  this 


•experience.  Once  he  said,  "Nothing  in  my 
whole  life  ever  so  filled  me  with  the  sense  of 
work  to  be  done.  It  was  as  if  I  were 
thrown  out  from  that  life  in  caves  to 
wander  to  and  fro  in  the  plains  below."  And 
again  he  said  to  some  one,  "It  is  not  the 
form  of  his  life  that  makes  a  Sadhu.  For  it 
is  possible  to  sit  in  a  cave  and  have  one's 
whole  mind  filled  with  the  question  of  how 
many  pieces  of  bread  will  be  brought  to  one 
for  supper !" 

It  was  perhaps  at  the  end  of  this  period, 
and  in  expression  of  that  propulsive  energy 
of  which  he  spoke,  that  he  made  a  vow 
to  worship  the  Mother  at  Cape  Comorin. 
In  carrying  this  out,  he  was  lavish  of  time, 
yet  it  must  have  taken  him  only  about 
two  years  to  accomplish  the  vow.  In  the 
course  of  his  wanderings  towards  this  end,  he 
seems  to  have  touched  upon  and  studied 
every  phase  of  Indian  life.  The  stories  of 
this  period  are  never  ended.  The  list  of  the 



friends  he  made  is  never  full.     He  received 
the   initiation    of    the    Sikhs  ;     studied   the 
Mimansa  Philosophy  with  Mahratta  pundits  ; 
and    the    Jain    Scriptures   with    Jains ;    was 
accepted  as  their  Guru  by  Rajput  princes  ; 
lived  for  weeks  with  a  family  of  sweepers,  in 
Central  India  ;    was  able  to  observe  at  first 
hand  such  obscure  questions  as   the  caste- 
customs    of    Malabar  ;    saw     many    of    the 
historic  sights  and   natural    beauties   of  his 
Mother-land,     and     finally     reached     Cape 
Comorin  too  poor  to  pay  for  a  seat  in  a  ferry- 
boat to  the  shrine  of   Kanya  Kumari,  and 
swam  across  the  strait  to  the  island,  in  spite 
of  sharks,  to  offer  the  worship  he  had  vowed. 
It   was  on   his    return    northwards    through 
Madras,  that  he  formed  the  strong  group  of 
disciples  who  became  the  means  of  sending 
him  to  America,  for  which  country  he  sailed 
finally  from  Bombay,  about  the  beginning  of 
June  1893. 

Even  this   however   he   was   not   eager 



to  do.     His  disciples  in  Madras  still  tell  how 
the  first  five  hundred  rupees  collected  for  the 
object   were   immediately  spent  by   him   in 
worship  and  charity,  as  if  he  would  force  on 
his   own  destiny,    as    it   were,    the    task   of 
driving  him  forth.     Even  when  he  reached 
Bombay,  he  was  still  waiting  for  the  feeling 
of     certainty.     Struggling     to     refuse     the 
undertaking,  he  felt  as   if  the   form    of   his 
own  Master  appeared  to  him  constantly,  and 
urged  him  to  go.     At  last  he  wrote  secretly 
to   Sarada   Devi,   the  widow  of  Sri   Rama- 
krishna,  begging  her,  if  she  could,  to  advise 
and  bless  him,  and  charging  her  to  tell  no 
one  of   this  new  departure,   till   she  should 
hear   from  him    again.     It   was   only   after 
receiving,  in  answer  to  this  letter,  her  warm 
encouragement,    and    the    assurance    of  her 
prayers,   that  he  actually  left   India  for  the 
West.     Now,  at  last,  there  was  no  escaping 
fate.     That       quest    of   forgotten-ness  that 
had  first    borne    him    out  of    the    doors    of 



the  monastery,  had  led  him  also  to  change- 
his  name  in  each  Indian  village  that  he 
reached.  And  in  later  years  some  one 
heard  from  him  how,  after  his  first  great 
speech  at  Chicago,  the  mingling  of  the  bitter- 
ness of  this  defeat  with  the  cup  of  his  triumph- 
ant achievement,  racked  his  consciousness 
all  night  long.  He  stood  now  in  the  glare  of 
publicity,  The  unknown  beggar  could  remain 
unknown  no  more  ! 

In  these  wanderings  through  India,  I 
find  the  third  and  final  element,  in  my 
Master's  realization  of  that  great  body  of 
truth,  which  was  to  find  in  him  at  once  its 
witness  and  its  demonstration. 

There  can  be  no  doubt,  I  think,  that  the 
formative  influences  in  his  life  were 
threefold  :  first  his  education  in  English  and 
Sanskrit  literature  ;  second,  the  great  per- 
sonality of  his  Guru,  illustrating  and  authen- 
ticating that  life  which  formed  the  theme  of 
all  the  sacred  writings  ;  and  thirdly,  as  I  would 



maintain,  his  personal  knowledge  of  India 
and  the  Indian  peoples,  as  an  immense  reli- 
gious organism,  of  which  his  Master  himself, 
with  all  his  greatness,  had  been  only,  as  it 
were,  the  personification  and  utterance.  And 
these  three  sources  can,  as  I  think,  be  dis- 
tinctly traced  in  his  various  utterances. 
When  he  preaches  Vedanta  and  upholds  be- 
fore the  world  the  philosophy  of  his  people, 
he  is  for  the  most  part  drawing  upon  the 
Sanskrit  books  of  past  ages,  though,  it  is 
true,  with  a  clearness  and  certainty  of  touch 
that  could  only  be  the  result  of  having  seen 
them  summed  up  in  a  single  wonderful  life. 
When  he  talks  of  Bhakti  as  of  "a  devotion 
beginning,  continuing  and  ending  in  love,"  or 
when  he  analyzes  Karma  Yoga,  'the  secret  of 
work,'  we  see  before  us  the  very  personality 
of  the  Master  himself,  we  realize  that  the 
disciple  is  but  struggling  to  tell  of  that 
glorified  atmosphere  in  which  he  himself  has 
dwelt  at  the  feet  of  another.  But  when  we 



Tread  his  speech  before  the  Chicago  Con- 
ference, or  his  equally  remarkable  "Reply  to 
the  Madras  Address,"  or  the  lectures  in 
which  at  Lahore,  in  1897,  he  portrayed  the 
lineaments  of  a  generalized  and  essential 
Hinduism,  we  find  ourselves  in  presence  of 
something  gathered  by  his  own  labours,  out 
of  his  own  experience.  The  power  behind 
all  these  utterances  lay  in  those  Indian 
wanderings  of  which  the  tale  can  probably 
never  be  complete.  It  was  of  this  first- 
hand knowledge,  then,  and  not  of  vague  sen- 
timent or  wilful  blindness,  that  his  reverence 
for  his  own  people  and  their  land  was  born. 
It  was  a  robust  and  cumulative  induction, 
moreover,  be  it  said,  ever  hungry  for  new 
facts,  and  dauntless  in  the  face  of  hostile 
criticism.  'The  common  bases  of  Hinduism 
had,'  as  he  once  said,  'been  the  study  of  his 
whole  life.'  And  more  than  this,  it  was  the 
same  thorough  and  first-hand  knowledge  that 
made  the  older  and  simpler  elements  in 



Hindu  civilization  loom  so  large  in  all  his 
conceptions  of  his  race  and  country.  Pos- 
sessed of  a  modern  education  that  ranked  with 
the  most  advanced  in  his  own  country,  he 
yet  could  not,  like  some  moderns,  ignore  the 
Sannyasin  or  the  peasant,  the  idolater  or  the 
caste-ridden,  as  elements  in  the  great  whole 
called  India.  And  this  determined  inclusive- 
ness  was  due  to  that  life  in  which  he  had 
for  years  together  been  united  with  them. 

It  must  be  remembered,  however,  that  we 
have  not  entirely  analyzed  a  great  career 
when  we  have  traced,  to  their  origin  in  the 
personal  experience,  those  ideas  which  form 
its  dominant  notes.  There  is  still  the  orgi- 
nal  impulse,  the  endowment  of  perennial 
energy  that  makes  the  world-spectacle  so 
much  more  full  of  meaning  to  one  soul  than 
to  another,  to  be  accounted  for.  And  I  have 
gathered  that  from  his  very  cradle  Viveka- 
nanda  had  a  secret  instinct  that  told  him  he 
was  born  to  help  his  country.  He  was  proud 



afterwards  to  remember  that  amidst  the 
temporal  vicissitudes  of  his  early  days  in 
America,  when  sometimes  he  did  not  know 
where  to  turn  for  the  next  meal,  his  letters  U> 
his  disciples  in  India  showed  that  this  innate 
faith  of  his  had  never  wavered.  Such  an 
indomitable  hope  resides  assuredly  in  all 
souls  who  are  born  to  carry  out  any  special 
mission.  It  is  a  deep  unspoken  conscious- 
ness of  greatness,  of  which  life  itself  is  to  be 
the  sole  expression.  To  Hindu  thinking,  there 
is  a  difference  as  of  the  poles,  between  such 
consciousness  of  greatness  and  vanity,  and 
this  is  seen,  as  I  think,  in  the  Swami  him- 
self at  the  moment  of  his  first  meeting  with 
Sri  Ramakrishna,  when  he  was  decidedly  re- 
pelled, rather  than  attracted,  by  what  he 
regarded  as  the  old  man's  exaggerated  esti- 
mate of  his  powers  and  of  himself. 

He  had  come,  a  lad  of  fifteen,  as  a  mem- 
ber of  a  party  visiting  Dakshineshwar,  and 
some  one,  probably  knowing  the  unusual 

1 06 


quality  of  his  voice,  and  his  knowledge  of 
music,  sugggested  that  he  should  sing.  He 
responded  with  a  song  of  Ram  Mohun  Roy's, 
ending  with  the  words,  "And  for  support 
keep  the  treasure  in  secret, — purity." 

This  seems  to  have  acted  like  a  signal — 
"My  boy  !  my  boy  !"  cried  Sri  Ramakrishna, 
"I  have  been  looking  for  you  these  three 
years,  and  you  have  come  at  last !"  From 
that  day  the  older  man  may  be  said  to  have 
devoted  himself  to  welding  the  lads  about 
him  into  a  brotherhood  whose  devotion  ta 
"Noren,"  as  the  Swami  was  then  called, 
would  be  unswerving.  He  was  never  tired  of 
foretelling  his  great  fame,  nor  of  pointing  out 
the  superiority  of  his  genius.  If  most  men 
had  two,  or  three,  or  even  ten  or  twelve 
gifts,  he  said,  he  could  only  say  of  Noren 
that  his  numbered  a  thousand.  He  was  in 
fact  "the  thousand-petalled  lotus."  Even 
amongst  the  great,  while  he  would  allow 
that  with  one  might  be  found  some  "two  of 



those  gifts  which  are    the  marks  of    Siva," 
Noren  had  at  least  eighteen  of  such. 

He  was  sensitive  to  the  point  of  physical 
pain  himself,  in  his  discrimination  of  hypo- 
crisy, and  on  one  occasion  refused  to  accept 
a  man  whose  piety  of  life  was  regarded  by 
those  about  him  as  unimpugnable.  The  man, 
he  said,  with  all  his  decorum,  was  a  whited 
sepulchre.  In  spite  of  constant  purification 
his  presence  was  contamination,  while  Noren, 
on  the  other  hand,  if  he  were  to  eat  beef  in 
an  English  hotel,  would  nevertheless  be  holy, 
so  holy  that  his  very  touch  would  convey 
holiness  to  others.  By  such  sayings  he 
sought  constantly  to  build  up  an  enduring 
relation,  based  firmly  on  essentials,  between 
those  who  were  to  be  his  supporters,  and 
this  disciple  who  was  to  lead. 

It  was  his  habit,  when  a  new  disciple 
came  to  him,  to  examine  him  mentally  and 
physically  in  all  possible  ways.  For  the 
human  body  was  to  his  trained  eye,  as  signifi- 



cant  in  all  its  parts,  as  any  model  of  a  machine 
to  a  skilled  scientific  observer.   These  exami- 
nations moreover  would  include  the  throwing 
of  the  newcomer  into  a  sleep,  in  which  he 
had  access  to  the  subconscious  mind.     The 
privileged,    as    I   have   been  told,  were  per- 
mitted in  this  condition  to  relate  their  own 
story  ;  while  from  the  less  honoured  it  was 
evoked  by  means  of  questions.       It  was  after 
such     an     examination     of    "Noren"      that 
the  Master  told  all  about  him,  that  when  the 
day  should  come  for  this  boy  to  realize  who 
and  what  he  was,  he  would  refuse  for  a  mo- 
ment longer  to  endure  the  bondage  of  bodi- 
ly existence,  going  out  from  life,  with  its  limi- 
tations.    And  by  this  was  always  understood 
by  the  disciples,  the  remembering  by  the  lad 
of  what  he  had  already  attained,  even  in  this 
world,   in  lives  anterior  to  his  present  con- 
sciousness. No  menial  service  to  himself  was 
permitted    by    Sri     Ramakrishna    from   this 
particular  follower.    Fanning,  the  preparation 



of  tobacco,  and  the  thousand  and  one  little 
attentions  commonly  rendered  to  the  Guru, 
all  these  had  to  be  offered  to  the  Master  by 

Amongst  the  many  quaint-seeming  customs 
of  the  East,  none  is  more  deep-rooted  than 
the  prejudice  against  eating  food  cooked  by 
one  who  is  not  respected.  And  on  this  point 
the  Swami's  Master  was  as  sensitive  as  a 
woman.  But  what  he  would  not  eat  him- 
self he  would  give  freely  to  his  favourite  dis- 
ciple, for  Noren,  he  said,  was  the  "roaring 
fire,"  burning  up  all  impurity.  The  core  of 
divinity  again,  in  this  boy's  nature  was  mas- 
culine in  its  quality,  as  compared  to  his  own 
merely  feminine.  Thus,  by  an  attitude  of  ad- 
miration, not  unmixed  with  actual  reverence, 
he  created  a  belief  in  the  destiny  of  this 
particular  lad,  which,  when  he  himself  had 
passed  away,  was  to  stand  him  in  good  stead, 
in  furnishing  authenticity  and  support  to  his 
work.  For  the  Swami  was  nothing,  if  not  a 



breaker  of  bondage.  And  it  was  essential 
that  there  should  be  those  about  him  who 
understood  the  polar  difference  between 
his  breaches  of  custom  and  those  of  the 
idly  self-indulgent.  Nothing  in  the  early 
days  of  my  life  in  India,  struck  me  so  for- 
cibly or  so  repeatedly  as  the  steadiness  with 
which  the  other  members  of  the  Order  fufilled 
this  part  of  the  mission  laid  upon  them.  Men 
whose  own  lives  were  cast  in  the  strictest 
mould  of  Hindu  orthodoxy,  or  even  of 
asceticism,  were  willing  to  eat  with  the 
Europeans  whom  their  leader  had  accepted. 
Was  the  Swami  seen  dining  in  Madras  with 
an  Englishman  and  his  wife  ?  Was  it  said  that 
while  in  the  West  he  had  touched  beef  or 
wine  ?  Not  a  quiver  was  seen  on  the  faces  of 
bis  brethren.  It  was  not  for  them  to  question, 
not  for  them  to  explain,  not  even  for  them  to 
ask  for  final  justification  and  excuse.  What- 
ever he  did,  wherever  he  might  lead,  it  was 
their  place  to  be  found  unflinching  at  his  side. 



And  surely  none  can  pass  this  spectacle  in 
review,  without  its  being  borne  in  upon   him, 
that   meaningless   as  would   have    been   the 
Order  of  Ramakrishna  without  Vivekananda, 
even  so  futile  would  have  been  the  life  and 
labours  of  Vivekananda,  without,  behind  him, 
his  brothers  of  the  Order  of  Ramakrishna. 
It  was  said  to  me  lately  by  one  of  the  older 
generation  that  "Ramakrishna  had  lived  for 
the  making  of  Vivekananda."  Is  it  indeed  so? 
Or  is  it  not  rather  impossible  to  distinguish 
with  such  fixity  betwen  one  part  and  another, 
in  a  single  mighty  utterance  of    the  Divine 
Mother-heart?     Often   it  appears  to  me,  in 
studying  all  these  lives,   that  there  has  been 
with  us  a  soul  named   Ramakrishna-Viveka- 
nanda,   and  that,  in  the  penumbra  of  his  be- 
ing, appear  many   forms,  some  of  which  are 
with  us  still,  and  of  none  of  whom  it  could  be 
said  with  entire  truth  that  here  ends,  in  rela- 
tion to  him,  the  sphere  of    those  others,  or 
that  there  begins  his  own. 



The  summer  of  1898  stands  out  in  my" 
memory  as  a  series  of  pictures,  painted  like 
old  altar-pieces,  against  a  golden  back- 
ground of  religious  ardour  and  simplicity, 
and  all  alike  glorified  by  the  presence  of  one 
who,  to  us  in  his  immediate  circle,  formed 
their  central  point.  We  were  a  party  of  four 
Western  women,  one  of  whom  was  Mrs, 
Ole  Bull  of  Cambridge,  Massachusetts,  and 
another  a  member  of  the  higher  official 
world  of  Anglo-Indian  Calcutta.  Side  by 
side  with  us  travelled  the  Swami,  surrounded 
by  his  brethren  (or  gurubhais)  and  disciples. 
Once  arived  at  Almora,  he  and  his  party 
became  the  guests  of  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Sevier, 
who  were  then  residing  there,  and  we  occupi- 
ed a  bungalow  some  distance  away.  Thus 



pleasantly  grouped,  it  was  possible  to  combine 
a  high  degree  of  freedom  and  intercourse. 
But  when,  after  a  month  or  so,  we  left  Almora 
for  Kashmir,  the  Swami  went  with  us,  as  the 
guest  of  Mrs.  Ole  Bull,  and  left  behind  him 
all  his  attendants. 

What  scenes  were  those  through  which 
we  journeyed  from  the  beginning  of  May 
until  the  end  of  October !  And  with  what 
passionate  enthusiasm  were  we  introduced 
one  by  one  to  each  point  of  interest,  as  we 
reached  it !  The  ignorance  of  educated 
Western  people  about  India, — excepting  of 
course  those  who  have  in  some  measure 
specialised  on  the  subject — might  almost  be 
described  as  illiteracy,  and  our  object-lessons 
began,  I  have  no  doubt,  with  Patna,  the 
ancient  Pataliputra,  itself.  The  river-front 
of  Benares,  as  one  approaches  it  by  railway 
from  the  East,  is  amongst  the  sights  of  the 
world,  and  could  not  fail  of  our  leader's  eager 
praise.  The  industries  and  luxuries  of 



Lucknow  must  needs  be  dwelt  upon  and  enu- 
merated. But  it  was  not  only  the  great  cities 
of  admitted  beauty  and  historic  importance, 
that  the  Swami,  in  his  eagerness,  would 
strive  to  impress  on  our  memory.  Perhaps 
nowhere  did  his  love  seem  more  ardent, 
or  his  absorption  more  intense,  than  as  we 
passed  across  the  long  stretches  of  the  Plains, 
covered  with  fields  and  farms  and  villages. 
Here  his  thought  was  free  to  brood  over  the 
land  as  a  whole,  and  he  would  spend  hours 
explaining  the  communal  system  of  agricul- 
ture, or  describing  the  daily  life  of  the  farm 
housewife,  with  such  details  as  that  of  the 
pot-du-feu  of  mixed  grains  left  boiling  all 
night,  for  the  morning  porridge.  It  was 
the  memory,  doubtless,  of  his  own  days  as  a 
wanderer,  that  so  brightened  his  eyes  and 
thrilled  in  his  voice,  as  he  told  us  these 
things.  For  I  have  heard  it  said  by  sadhus 
that  there  is  no  hospitality  in  India  like 
that  of  the  humble  peasant  home.  True, 


the  mistress  has  no  better  bedding  to  offer 
than  straw,  no  better  shelter  than  an  outhouse 
built  of  mud.  But  it  is  she  who  steals  in  at 
the  last  moment,  before  she  goes  to  rest  her- 
self amongst  her  sleeping  household,  to  place 
a  tooth-brush  twig  and  a  bowl  of  milk  where 
the  guest  will  find  them,  on  waking  in  the 
morning,  that  he  may  go  forth  from  beneath 
her  roof  comforted  and  refreshed. 

It  would  seem  sometimes  as  if  the  Swami 
lived  and  moved  and  had  his  very  being  in 
the  sense  of  his  country's  past.  His  historic 
consciousness  was  extraordinarily  developed. 
Thus,  as  we  journeyed  across  the  Terai,  in^ 
the  hot  hours  of  an  afternoon  near  the  be- 
ginning of  the  rains,  we  were  made  to  feel 
that  this  was  the  very  earth  on  which  had 
passed  the  youth  and  renunciation  of  Buddha. 
The  wild  peacocks  spoke  to  us  of  Rajputana 
and  her  ballad  lore.  An  occasional  elephant 
was  the  text  for  tales  of  ancient  battles,  and 
the  story  of  an  India  that  was  never  defeated,. 



so  long  as  she  could  oppose  to  the  tide  of 
conquest  the  military  walls  of  these  living 

As  we  had  crossed  the  boundary  from 
Bengal  into  the  North- West  Provinces,  the 
Swami  had  stopped  to  tell  us  of  the  wisdom 
.and  methods  of  the  great  and  merciful  En- 
glish ruler  who  was  at  that  time  at  the  head 
of  their  administration.  "Unlike  others,"  he 
said,  in  words  that  impressed  my  memory  at 
the  time,  "he  understands  the  need  of  per- 
sonal government  in  Oriental  countries, 
where  a  strong  public  opinion  is  not  yet  de- 
veloped, so  no  hospital,  no  college,  no  office 
knows  the  day  when  he  will  pay  it  a  visit  of 
inspection.  And  even  the  poorest  believes 
that  if  only  he  can  reach  him  personally,  he 
will  receive  justice  at  his  hands."  This  idea 
-of  the  importance  of  personality  in  Eastern 
governments  often  came  uppermost  in  his 
talk.  He  constantly  spoke  of  a  democracy 
as  theoretically  the  worst  form  for  an  impe- 



rial  government  to  take.  And  one  of  his  fa- 
vourite speculations  was  that  it  had  been  a 
perception  of  this  truth  that  had  urged 
Julius  Caesar  on,  to  aspire  to  the  imperial 
authority,  We  realised  sometimes,  as  we 
listened  to  him,  how  hard  it  had  been  for  the 
Indian  poor,  to  understand  the  transition  from 
the  personal  rule  of  sovereigns,  always  acces- 
sible to  appeal,  always  open  to  the  impulse  of 
mercy,  and  able  to  exercise  a  supreme  dis- 
cretion, to  the  cold  bureaucratic  methods  of 
a  series  of  departments.  For  we  heard  from 
him  the  personal  histories  of  innumerable 
simple  folk,  who,  in  the  early  years  of  British 
rule,  had  spent  their  all  in  the  vain  hope  of 
reaching  the  Queen,  and  gaining  her  ear,  at 
Windsor.  Heart-broken  pilgrims  for  the 
most  part,  who  died,  of  want  and  disillusion- 
ment, far  from  the  homes  and  villages  that 
they  would  never  see  again ! 

It   was   as   we   passed    into  the  Punjab, 
Rowever,  that  we  caught  our  deepest  glimpse 



of  the  Master's  love  of  his  own  land.  Any 
one  who  had  seen  him  here,  would  have 
supposed  him  to  have  been  born  in  the  pro- 
vince, so  intensely  had  he  identified  himself 
with  it.  It  would  seem  that  he  had  been 
deeply  bound  to  the  people  there  by  many 
ties  of  love  and  reverence  ;  had  received 
much  and  given  much  ;  for  there  were  some 
amongst  them  who  urged  that  they  found  in 
him  a  rare  mixture  of  'Guru  Nanak  and  Guru 
Govind,"  their  first  teacher  and  their  last. 
Even  the  most  suspicious  amongst  them 
trusted  him.  And  if  they  refused  to  credit 
his  judgment,  or  endorse  his  outflowing  sym- 
pathy, in  regard  to  those  Europeans  whom 
he  had  made  his  own,  he,  it  may  have  been, 
loved  the  wayward  hearts  all  the  more  for 
their  inflexible  condemnation  and  incorrup- 
tible sternness.  His  American  disciples 
were  already  familiar  with  his  picture — that 
called  to  his  own  face  a  dreamy  delight, — 
of  the  Punjabi  maiden  at  her  spinning 



wheel,  listening  to  its  "Sivoham  !  Sivoham  ! 
I  am  He  !  I  am  He  !"  Yet  at  the  same 
time,  I  must  not  forget  to  tell  that  it 
was  here,  on  entering  the  Punjab,  even  as, 
near  the  end  of  his  life,  he  is  said  to  have 
done  again  at  Benares,  that  he  called  to 
him  «i  Mussulman  vendor  of  sweetmeats, 
and  bought  and  ate  from  his  hand  Moham- 
medan food. 

As  we  went  through  some  village,  he 
would  point  out  to  us  those  strings  of  mari- 
golds above  the  door,  that  distinguished  the 
Hindu  homes.  Again  he  would  show  us  the 
pure  golden  tint  of  skin,  so  different  from 
the  pink  and  white  of  the  European  ideal, 
that  constitutes  the  'fairness'  admired  by  the 
Indian  races.  Or  as  one  drove  beside  him  in 
a  tonga,  he  would  forget  all,  in  that  tale  of 
which  he  never  wearied,  of  Siva,  the  Great 
God,  silent,  remote  upon  the  mountains,  ask- 
ing nothing  of  men  but  solitude,  and  ''lost 
in  one  eternal  meditation.' 

1 20 


We  drove  from  Rawalpindi  to  Murree, 
where  we  spent  a  few  days.  And  then,  partly 
by  tonga,  partly  by  boat,  we  proceeded  to 
Srinagar  in  Kashmir,  and  made  it  our  centre 
and  headquarters,  during  the  wanderings  of 
the  following  months. 

It  would  be  easy  to  lose  oneself  here  in 
the  beauty  of  our  journeys,  in  descriptions 
of  mountain-forests  on  the  road  to  Almora,  or 
of  cathedral-rocks  and  corn-embosomed 
villages  in  the  Jhelum  Pass.  For,  as  one 
returns  upon  that  time,  its  record  is  found  in 
a  constant  succession  of  scenes  of  loveliness. 
Not  least  of  these  pictures  is  the  memory  of 
the  handsome  old  woman,  wearing  the  crim- 
son coronet  and  white  veil  of  Kashmiri 
peasants,  who  sat  at  her  spinning-wheel 
under  a  great  chenaar-tree  *in  a  farm-yard, 
surrounded  by  her  daughters-in-law,  when 
we  passed  that,  way,  and  stopped  to  visit  her. 
It  was  the  Swami's  second  call  on  her.  He 

*  The  Chenaar-tree  is  the  Orie  ntal  Plane. 



had  received  some  small  kindness  at  her  hands 
the  year  before,  and  had  never  tired  of  telling 
how,  after  this,  when  he  had  asked,  before 
saying  farewell,  " — And,  mother,  of  what 
religion  are  you  ?"  her  whole  face  had 
lighted  up  with  pride  and  joy,  and  her 
old  voice  had  rung  out  in  triumph  as 
she  answered  loudly  and  clearly,  "I  thank 
our  God,  by  the  mercy  of  the  Lord,  I  am 
a  Mussulman !" 

Or  I  might  tell  of  the  avenue  of  lofty 
Lombardy  poplars  outside  Srinagar,  so  like 
the  well-known  picture  by  Hobbema,  where 
we  listened  to  discourse  after  discourse  on 
India  and  the  Faith. 

Or  I  might  linger  over  the  harvest  merri- 
ment of  the  villagers,  playing  in  reaped  fields 
on  moonlit  evenings  ;  or  talk  of  the  red  bronze 
of  amaranth  crops,  or  the  green  of  young  rice 
under  tall  poplars  at  Islamabad.  For-get-me- 
nots  of  a  brilliant  blue  form  the  commonest 
wild  flower  of  the  Kashmiri  fields  in  summer  -r 



but  in  autumn  and  spring,  fields  and  river 
banks  are  violet-tinged  with  small  purple  irises, 
and  one  walks  amongst  their  spear-like  leaves 
as  if  they  were  grass.  How  infinitely  tender 
are  the  suggestions  of  those  little  iris-covered 
hillocks,  rounding  off  the  rise  of  some  road-side 
against  the  sky,  that  mark  the  burial  places 
of  the  Mussulman  dead  ! 

Here  and  there,  too,  amidst  grass  and 
irises,  one  comes  on  groups  of  gnarled  apple 
trees,  or  pear,  or  plum,  the  remains  of  the 
village  orchards  which  the  State,  once  upon 
a  time,  supplied  to  all  its  subjects  free  of 
cost.  Walking  here  once,  at  twilight,  along 
the  high  banks  of  the  river,  I  watched  a  party 
of  Mussulman  herdsmen,  crooks  in  hand, 
driving  a  small  flock  of  long-haired  goats 
before  them  to  their  village.  And  then,  as 
they  came  to  a  knot  of  apple-trees,  they 
stopped  awhile,  and  spreading  a  blanket  for 
praying-carpet,  they  proceeded  to  offer  their 
evening-worship  in  the  deepening  dusk. 



Verily,  says    my  heart,   there   is  no  end  of 
.beauty.     There  is  no  end ! 

But  in  good  sooth  it  is  not  of  these 
things  that  I  am  attempting,  in  the  course 
<of  the  present  pages,  to  speak.  Mine  is  the 
broken  and  faltering  witness  of  one  who  is 
fain  to  tell — not  of  geography  nor  of  politics, 
nor  yet  of  the  ways  and  customs  of  interest- 
ing peoples  and  unknown  races,  but  rather  of 
the  glimpses  vouchsafed  to  her  of  a  great 
religious  life  of  the  ancient  order,  living  it- 
self out,  amidst  the  full  and  torturing  cons- 
ciousness of  all  the  anomalies  and  perplexi- 
ties of  the  Modern  Transition.  Sri  Rama- 
krishna  had  been,  as  the  Swami  himself  said 
once  of  him,  "like  a  flower,"  living  apart 
in  the  garden  of  a  temple,  simple,  half-naked, 
orthodox,  the  ideal  of  the  old  time  in  India, 
suddenly  burst  into  bloom,  in  a  world  that 
had  thought  to  dismiss  its  very  memory.  It 
was  at  once  the  greatness  and  the  tragedy  of 
my  own  Master's  !ife  that  he  was  not  of  this 



type.  His  was  the  modern  mind  in  its 
completeness.  In  his  consciousness,  the 
ancient  light  of  the  mood  in  which  man 
comes  face  to  face  with  God  might  shine,  but 
it  shone  on  all  those  questions  and  all  those 
puzzles  which  are  present  to  the  thinkers  and 
workers  of  the  modern  world.  His  hope 
could  not  pass  by  unheeded, — it  might  include 
or  it  might  reject — the  hope  of  men  of  the 
nineteenth  century.  That  sudden  revelation 
of  the  misery  and  struggle  of  humanity  as  a 
whole,  which  has  been  the  first  result  of  the 
limelight  irradiation  of  facts  by  the  organisa- 
tion of  knowledge,  had  been  made  to  him 
also,  as  to  the  European  mind.  We  know 
the  verdict  that  Europe  has  passed  on  it  all. 
Our  art,  our  science,  our  poetry,  for  the 
last  sixty  years  or  more,  are  filled  with  the 
voices  of  our  despair.  A  world  summed  up 
in  the  growing  satisfaction  and  vulgarity  of 
privilege,  and  the  growing  sadness  and 
pain  of  the  dispossessed  ;  and  a  will  of  maa 



too  noble  and  high  to  condone  the  evil, 
yet  too  feeble  to  avert  or  arrest  it,  this  is  the 
spectacle  of  which  our  greatest  minds 
are  aware.  Reluctant,  wringing  her  hands, 
it  is  true,  yet  seeing  no  other  way,  the 
culture  of  the  West  can  but  stand  and  cry, 
"To  him  that  hath  shall  be  given,  and  from 
him  that  hath  not  shall  be  taken  away  even 
that  which  he  hath.  Vae  Victis !  Woe  to 
the  vanquished  !" 

Is  this  also  the  verdict  of  the  Eastern 
wisdom  ?  If  so,  what  hope  is  there  for 
humanity  ?  I  find  in  my  Master's  life  an 
answer  to  this  question.  I  see  in  him  the 
heir  to  the  spiritual  discoveries  and  religious 
struggles  of  innumerable  teachers  and  saints 
in  the  past  of  India  and  the  world,  and  at 
the  same  time  the  pioneer  and  prophet  of  a 
new  and  future  order  of  development.  In 
the  place  which  a  problem  took  in  his  mind 
I  find  evidence  regarding  its  final  solution 
which — short  of  my  own  definite  arrival  at 



an  opposite  conclusion,  as  he  himself  would 
have  been  the  first  to  point  out — is  of  the 
highest  value  to  myself.  And  thinking  thus, 
I  believe  that  each  trace  of  those  higher  and 
uncommon  modes  of  thought  and  conscious- 
ness to  which  he  held  the  key,  has  its 
significance  for  the  modern  age.  I  believe 
that  much  which  has  passed  myself  by,  un- 
comprehending, will  fall  on  its  proper  soil  in 
other  lives.  And  I  pray  only  to  give 
always  true  witness,  without  added  interpola- 
tion, or  falsifying  colour. 




I  had  heard  of  "the  spiritual  life"  in 
Calcutta,  as  of  a  thing  definite  and  accessible, 
to  be  chosen  deliberately,  and  attained  by 
following  certain  well-known  paths.  I  found 
it,  on  reaching  the  mountains,  to  have  its 
roots  deep  in  a  yearning  love  of  God,  in  an 
anguished  pursuit  of  the  Infinite,  of  which  I 
cannot  hope  to  give  any  description.  For 
this  was  characteristic  of  our  Master. 
Where  others  would  talk  of  ways  and  means, 
he  knew  how  to  light  a  fire.  Where  others 
gave  directions,  he  would  show  the  thing 

I  wish  here  to  be  exceedingly  explicit. 
My  own  part,  throughout  the  years  of  my 
discipleship,  appears  to  me  to  have  been 



something  like  that  of  a  thought-reader. 
The  only  claim  that  I  can  make  is  that  I 
was  able  to  enter  sufficiently  into  the  circuit 
of  my  Master's  energy  to  be  able  to  give 
evidence  regarding  it  from  direct  perception. 
And  since  I  believe  that  such  an  experience 
is  subject  to  laws  as  definite  as  those  of  any 
physical  force,  I  must  endeavour  to  describe 
accurately  the  conditions  under  which  this 
happened  to  me. 

The  Swami  himself  was,  on  personal 
subjects,  intensely  reserved.  He  had  re- 
ceived confessions,  of  course,  in  many  parts 
of  the  world,  yet  no  one  ever  lived  who 
more  anxiously  sought  to  escape  the  office 
of  spiritual  director.  A  hot  flush  and  an 
accession  of  delicate  hauteur  were  his 
immediate  response,  even  to  such  merely 
theoretical  questions  as  appeared  to  him  to 
demand  too  intimate  a  revelation  of  the 
personal  experience.  I  have  sometimes 
heard  enquiries  forced  upon  him  in  his 



London  classes — as  to  such  matters  as  the 
feeling  which  accompanies  Samadki,  for  ins- 
tance,— when  it  was  clear  to  all  listeners 
that  he  would  rather  have  endured  a 
careless  touch  upon  an  exposed  nerve. 

He  had  himself  suggested  my  joining 
his  travelling  party,  for  the  purpose  of  re- 
ceiving his  personal  training  for  the  work  he 
wished  me  to  do  in  India.  But  the  method 
of  this  training  proved  entirely  general. 
We  would  sit  all  together  in  garden  or 
verandah,  and  listen,  all  together,  to  the 
discourse  of  the  hour,  each  appropriating 
as  much  as  she  chose,  and  studying  after- 
wards as  she  liked. 

In  all  that  year  of  1898  I  can  remember 
only  one  occasion  when  the  Swami  invited 
me  to  walk  alone  with  him  for  half  an  hour, 
and  then  our  conversation — for  it  was 
towards  the  end  of  the  summer,  when  I  had 
begun  to  understand  my  own  position 
a  little — was  rather  of  the  policy  and 


aims  of    the  future,  than  of    anything  more 

Undoubtedly,  in  the  circle  that  gathers 
round  a  distinguished  thinker,  there  are  hid- 
den emotional  relationships  which  form  the 
channels,  as  it  were,  along  which  his  ideas 
circulate  and  are  received.  Even  a  mathe- 
matician will  succeed  in  impressing  himself 
on  his  generation,  only  in  proportion  to  the 
radiance  of  feeling  on  which  his  thought  is 
carried.  But  these  expressions  are  wholly 
impersonal,  and  are  appreciated  by  different 
receivers  in  very  different  ways.  One  holds 
himself  as  servant;  another,  as  brother,  friend, 
or  comrade  ;  a  third  may  even  regard  the 
master-personality  as  that  of  a  beloved  child. 
These  things  have  been  made  into  a  perfect 
science  in  India,  and  it  is  there  boldly  under- 
stood and  accepted  that  without  some  such 
dramatisation  of  their  own  relation  to  it, 
ordinary  minds  cannot  be  made  susceptible 
of  a  great  religious  impulse.  In  my  own  case 


the  position  ultimately  taken  proved  that 
most  happy  one  of  a  spiritual  daughter,  and 
as  such  I  was  regarded  by  all  the  Indian 
people  and  communities,  whom  I  met 
during  my  Master's  life. 

But  at  the  beginning  of  these  journeys, 
before  this  and  other  things  became  clear  to 
me,  my  mind  was  wholly  in  bewilderment, 
and  it  was  my  great  good  fortune  that  I  was 
given  at  this  time,  as  my  daily  teacher,  in 
Bengali  and  in  Hindu  religious  literature,  the 
young  monk  known  as  the  Swami  Swarupa- 
nanda.  For  I  have  always  thought  that  it 
was  to  the  fact  that  I  found  myself  on  the 
line  of  communication  between  his  mind  and 
that  of  our  Master, — as  on  the  pathway  of 
interaction  between  some  major  and  minor 
heliograph, — that  I  owed  my  ability  there- 
after to  read  and  understand  a  little 
of  those  feelings  and  ideas  with  which 
the  air  about  us  was  charged. 

The  Swami  Swarupananda  had  been  re- 



ceived  at  the  Monastery,  within  a  few  days 
of  my  own  admission,  in  the  chapel  there, 
to  the  vows  of  a  novice.  But  he,  after  some 
few  weeks  of  probation,  had  received  the 
yellow  cloth,  and  taken  the  rank  of  a  Sann- 
yasin,  at  the  hands  of  the  Swami.  The 
story  of  his  mental  development  was  of  ex- 
traordinary interest  to  me.  For  this  man  had 
been  brought  up  in  his  childhood  in  the 
Vaishnava  faith,  that  is  to  say,  in  an  idea  of 
God  as  the  kind  and  loving  Lord  and  Pre- 
server of  men,  and  of  Krishna  as  the  Saviour 
and  Divine  Incarnation,  which  is  practically 
tantamount  to  the  Christianity  of  the  West. 
The  usual  revulsion,  familiar  to  all  of  us,  had 
been  encountered.  In  the  early  and  most 
chivalrous  years  of  manhood  he  had  witness- 
ed a  few  instances  of  the  injustice  of  life,  had 
seen  bitter  proof  that  the  battle  in  this  world 
was  to  the  strong,  and  found  himself  unable 
to  believe  longer  in  the  sweet  myth  of  his 
childhood,  of  an  all-kind  Providence.  One 



of  these  stories  I  remember.  Passing  through 
a  crowded  street  one  day,  he  found  a  poor 
woman  kneeling  and  crying  softly,  as,  grain 
by  grain,  she  picked  up  from  the  dust  a  hand- 
ful of  rice,  that  had  been  jostled  out  of  the 
bowl  in  her  hand,  by  a  passer-by.  And  then 
the  man  found  himself  in  his  passionate 
pity,  crying  indignantly,  "What  the  Devil 
would  God  be  doing,  if  He  existed,  to  let 
such  things  happen  ?" 

Two  or  three  such  experiences  precipita- 
ted him  upon  a  year  of  mental  suffering  so 
keen  that  he  never  again  knew  perfect 
health.  But  he  emerged  from  it  in  the 
peace  that  comes  of  a  settled  attitude  towards 
life.  He  would  break  the  dream.  In  other 
words,  he  had  reached  the  conclusion  that 
thousands  of  Indian  students  have  arrived 
at,  both  before  and  since  the  time  of  Buddha. 
It  was  henceforth  impossible  to  him  to  ima- 
gine' that  the  solution  of  the  problem  might 
ultimately  be  found  in  any  picture  of  God 



seated  on  a  throne,  and  the  soul  of  man,  in 
any  attitude  or  relation,  kneeling  before 
Him.  Rather,  he  saw  in  the  ignorance  and 
selfishness  of  the  mind  itself,  the  source  of  all 
such  dreams  as  this,  and  of  those  further 
dreams,  of  pain  and  pleasure,  of  justice  and 
injustice,  of  which  the  world,  as  we  know  it, 
is  made  up.  And  he  determined  to  conquer 
this  illusion,  to  reach  the  point  of  utmost  in- 
sight and  certainty,  to  gain  deliverance  from 
the  perception  of  opposites,  and  to  attain 
to  that  permanent  realisation  of  One-ness 
which  is  known,  in  the  Hindu  conception  of 
life,  as  Mukti. 

From  this  time  on,  his  schooling  of  him- 
self to  reach  the  highest  would  appear  to 
have  become  a  passion.  One  came  to  under- 
stand, in  many  ways,  that  the  remaining  years 
of  his  life  in  his  father's  house  had  been  al- 
most more  severe  than  those  spent  in  most 
monasteries.  And  I,  reading  the  Bhagavad 
Gita  under  his  guidance,  long  afterwards  at 



Almora,  was  made  able  to  conceive  of  what 
we  call  the  love  of  God  as  a  burning 

Under  the  influence  of  the  Swami  Swa- 
rupananda,  I  began  seriously  the  attempt  at 
meditation.  And  if  it  had  not  been  for  this 
help  of  his,  one  of  the  greatest  hours  of  my 
life  would  have  passed  me  by.  My  relation 
to  our  Master  at  this  time  can  only  be  des- 
cribed as  one  of  clash  and  conflict.  I  can  see 
now  how  much  there  was  to  learn,  and  how 
short  was  the  time  for  learning  to  be,  and 
the  first  of  lessons  doubtless  is  the  destroy- 
ing of  self-sufficiency  in  the  mind  of  the 
taught.  But  I  had  been  little  prepared  for 
that  constant  rebuke  and  attack  upon  all  my 
most  cherished  prepossessions  which  was 
now  my  lot.  Suffering  is  often  illogical,  and 
I  cannot  attempt  to  justify  by  reason  the  de- 
gree of  unhappiness  which  I  experienced  at 
this  time,  as  I  saw  the  dream  of  a  friendly 
and  beloved  leader  falling  away  from  me, 



.and  the  picture  of  one  who  would  be  at  least 
indifferent,  and  possibly,  silently  hostile,  subs- 
tituting itself  instead. 

Fortunately  it  never  occurred  to  me  to 
retract  my  own  proffered  service,  but  I  was 
made  to  realise,  as  the  days  went  by,  that  in 
this  there  would  be  no  personal  sweetness. 
And  then  a  time  came  when  one  of  the  older 
ladies  of  our  party,  thinking  perhaps  that 
such  intensity  of  pain  inflicted  might  easily 
go  too  far,  interceded  kindly  and  gravely 
with  the  Swami.  He  listened  silently  and 
went  away.  At  evening,  however,  he  return- 
ed, and  finding  us  together  in  the  verandah, 
he  turned  to  her  and  said,  with  the  simplicity 
of  a  child,  "You  were  right.  There  must  be  a 
change.  I  am  going  away  into  the  forests  to 
be  alone,  and  when  I  come  back  I  shall  bring 
peace."  Then  he  turned  and  saw  that  above 
.us  the  moon  was  new,  and  a  sudden  exalta- 
tion came  into  his  voice  as  he  said,  "See  !  the 
Mohammedans  think  much  of  the  new  moon. 



Let  us  also  with  the  new  moon  begin  a  new 
life  !"  As  the  words  ended,  he  lifted  his  hands 
and  blessed,  with  silent  depths  of  blessing, 
his  most  rebellious  disciple,  by  this  time 
kneeling  before  him.... It  was  assuredly  a 
moment  of  wonderful  sweetness  of  reconcilia- 
tion. But  such  a  moment  may  heal  a  wound. 
It  cannot  restore  an  illusion  that  has  been 
broken  into  fragments.  And  I  have  told  its 
story,  only  that  I  may  touch  upon  its  sequel.. 
Long,  long  ago,  Sri  Ramakrishna  had 
told  his  disciples  that  the  day  would  come 
when  his  beloved  "Noren"  would  manifest 
his  own  great  gift  of  bestowing  knowledge 
with  a  touch.  That  evening  at  Almora,  I 
proved  the  truth  of  his  prophecy.  For  alone, 
in  meditation,  I  found  myself  gazing  deep  in- 
to an  Infinite  Good,  to  the  recognition  of 
which  no  egoistic  reasoning  had  led  me.  I 
learnt,  too,  on  the  physical  plane,  the  simple 
everyday  reality  of  the  experience  related 
in  the  Hindu  books  on  religious  psycho- 


logy.     And  I    understood,     for     the     first 

time,     that  the      greatest     teachers      may 

destroy    in  us    a    personal     relation     only 

in   order  to  bestow     the   Impersonal  Vision 
in  its  place. 




This  was  not  perhaps  the  only  experience 
of  its  kind,  but  it  was  certainly  the  only  one 
to  which  I  need  refer  in  detail;  and  the  whole 
incident  of  which  it  formed  a  part  gave  me 
the  clue  to  the  attitude  which  the  Eastern 
teacher  demands  of  a  disciple.  Before  all  things 
this  attitude  must  be  one  of  passivity.  I  have 
also  heard  it  urged,  that  it  must  be  one  of 
personal  service.  Under  these  conditions,  it  is 
said,  the  thoughts  of  the  master  become  as 
seeds,  and  germinate  in  the  mind  of  the  pupil. 
I  cannot  tell.  My  own  offerings  in  this  kind 
were  limited  to  very  brief  and  very  occasion- 
al requisitions  of  the  needle  or  the  pen.  A 
daughter  must  not  at  any  time  act,  said  the 
Swami,  as  if  in  her  father's  house  were  too 
few  servants !  Yet  I  do  believe — for  in  some 



cases  I  have  known  its  truth — that  by  the 
loving  performance  of  humble  offices  for  those 
above  us,  we  may  enter  into  spiritual  and 
intellectual  communion  with  them,  which 
may  bear  strange  and  beautiful  fruit  in 
our  own  lives. 

The  feeling  which  people  of  certain 
schools  in  the  West  devote  to  the  Church, 
that  mixture  of  perfect  faith  and  adoring  love, 
the  Eastern  disciple  is  called  upon  to  render 
to  his  guru,  or  spiritual  master.  It  is  he  and 
his  achievement,  which  are  the  power  behind 
his  follower.  And  the  unpardonable  sacrilege 
is  a  failure  to  acknowledge,  or  a  repudiation 
of,  this  debt.  Each  will  express  his  devotion 
in  his  own  way.  Greatest  of  all  gurus  is  he 
who  realises  most  deeply  the  freedom  of  the 
disciple.  But  devotion  to  the  uttermost  there 
must  be.  And  dry-rot,  it  is  believed,  invades 
that  spiritual  life  which  seeks  to  base  its 
message  on  itself. 

We  had  at  this  time,  it  will  be  remember- 



ed,  become  part  of  a  society  in  which  solitude 
was  regarded  as  the  greatest  medium  of  self- 
development.  Nothing,  said  the  Swami,  bet- 
ter illustrated  to  his  own  mind,  the  difference 
between  Eastern  and  Western  methods  of 
thought,  than  the  European  idea  that  a  man 
could  not  live  alone  for  twenty  years,  and  re- 
main quite  sane,  taken  side  by  side  with  the 
Indian  notion  that  till  a  man  had  been  alone 
for  twenty  years,  he  could  not  be  regarded  as 
perfectly  himself.  And  the  contrast,  though 
necessarily  expressed  with  some  exaggeration, 
is  nevertheless  essentially  correct.  To  Hindu 
thinking  it  is  only  in  silence  and  alone-ness 
that  we  can  drink  so  deep  of  the  Impersonal 
Self  that  all  the  facets  and  angles  of  our  per- 
sonal littleness  are  rounded  out,  as  by  growth 
from  within.  Thus,  the  faces  of  the  Buddhas, 
in  the  hour  of  Nirvana,  are  always  calm.  The 
world,  in  all  its  aspects  and  relations,  is  but  a 
childish  interruption  of  the  flow  of  thought. 
Behind  everything  is  felt  to  be  that  unutter- 



able  fulness,  of  which  the  thing  seen  is  so 
paltry  and  distorted  an  expression.  Human 
relations  are  too  poor  to  tempt  those  who 
have  bathed  in  the  wellspring  of  all  such  re- 
lations at  the  Ultimate  Source.  And  this 
Ultimate  Source  is  not  thought  of  here,  it 
must  be  remembered,  as  love  or  compassion 
or  heroism,  though  all  these  may  be  roads  by 
which  to  reach  it,  but  as  the  perception  of 
Oneness,  and  that  alone.  I  have  always 
thought  that  this  is  the  reason  why  steadiness 
and  quiet  and  self-effacement  are  virtues  so 
much  more  central,  in  the  Hindu  conception, 
than  the  more  active  and  aggressive  charac- 
teristics prized  in  the  West.  Every  respect  in 
which  we,  being  persons,  can  yet  be  consis- 
tently indifferent  to  our  own  personality,  is  so 
much  gained. 

Under  the  domination  of  these  ideas,  then, 
it  appeared  self-evident  to  all  of  us,  in  that 
wonderful  summer  of  1898,  that  far  beyond 
any  of  the  Saviours-made-visible,  were  those 



greater  souls  who  had  entered  into  the  Im- 
personal and  the  Unmanifested,  never  to  re- 
turn. "It  is  a  sin  even  to  think  of  the  body," 
the  Swami  would  say,  now  and  again;  or, 
"It  is  wrong  to  manifest  power  !"  And  even 
in  the  compassion  of  a  Buddha  there  was 
memory  of  persons !  Even  in  the  purity  of 
Jesus  there  was  manifestation  ! 

This  last  thought  seems  to  form  a  com- 
mon motive  with  Indian  Sadkus,  for  on  one 
occasion  when  our  tents  had  been  pitched  in- 
discreetly near  a  pilgrims'  camp,  and  the 
Swami  was  half-minded  to  insist,  against 
hundreds  of  obstreperous  complainants,  on 
leaving  them  where  they  were,  a  strange 
monk  came  up  to  him,  and  said  in  a  low 
voice,  "You  have  this  power,  Swamiji,  but 
you  ought  not  to  manifest  it !"  And  he  at 
once  had  them  removed. 

As  to  the  power  of  silence  and  retirement 
to  make  illumination  visible,  we  had  many 
opportunities  of  judging.  For  over  and  over 


again  the  Swami  would  break  away,  to  return 
unexpectedly.  It  sometimes  seemed  as  if  life 
in  society  were  an  agony  to  him.  He  grew 
nervous  under  the  gaze  of  numbers  of  admir- 
ers who  had  heard  of  his  great  fame,  and 
would  enter  his  boat  and  sit  watching  him, 
leaving  him  no  privacy.  The  life  of  the  silent 
ashen-clad  wanderer,  or  the  hidden  hermit, 
he  thought  of,  it  would  now  and  then  seem, 
as  the  lover  might  think  of  the  beloved.  At 
no  time  would  it  have  surprised  us,  had  some 
one  told  us  that  to-day  or  tomorrow  he 
would  be  gone  for  ever;  that  we  were  now  lis- 
tening to  his  voice  for  the  last  time.  He,  and 
necessarily  we,  in  all  that  depended  on  him, 
were  as  straws  carried  on  the  Ganges  of  the 
Eternal  Will.  At  any  moment  It  might  reveal 
Itself  to  him  as  silence.  At  any  moment,  life 
in  the  world  might  end  for  him. 

This  plan-less-ness  was  not  an  accident. 
Never  can  I  forget  the  disgust  with  which  he 
turned  on  myself  once,  a  couple  of  years  later, 


when  I  had  offered  him  some  piece  of  world- 
ly wisdom  regarding  his  own  answer  to  a 
letter  which  he  had  brought  for  me  to  see. 
"Plans  !  Plans  !"  he  exclaimed  in  indignation. 
"That  is  why  you  Western  people  can  never 
create  a  religion  !  If  any  of  you  ever  did,  it 
was  only  a  few  Catholic  saints,  who  had  no 
plans.  Religion  was  never  never  preached  by 

As  it  was,  in  the  course  of  that  pleasant 
summer-journey,  we  were  always  liable  to 
hear  from  the  servants  that  the  Swami's  boat 
had  left  its  moorings  an  hour  ago,  and  would 
not  return  to-day.  He  might  be  away,  in  fact, 
either  one  or  many  days.  We  never  knew. 
But  always  he  returned  from  these  lonely  re- 
treats with  shining  of  radiance  and  peace, 
and  ever-deepening  utterance  of  knowledge. 
To  all  the  disciples  of  Ramakrishna,  religious 
customs  consecrated  by  the  faith  of  others, 
have  great  significance.  One  of  them  speaks 
of  the  Scala  Santa  in  Rome  as  moving  him 



deeply.  The  ideal  of  the  Order  moreover,  is 
to  participate  in  the  worship  of  the  accustom- 
ed devotees  in  every  detail.  Thus  I  have  seen 
my  own  Master,  when  visiting  holy  places, 
make  the  same  offerings  of  milk  and  rice,  or 
tell  his  beads  in  the  same  manner,  as  the 
humblest  of  the  women  about  him.  The 
minutest  rules  of  conduct,  both  secular  and 
religious,  would  be  scrupulously  observed  by 
him  on  these  occasions.  Thus  he  one-d  him- 
self with  the  people,  before  rising  to  his  own 
greatest  heights. 

Two  places  in  Kashmir  are  regarded  as 
extremely  sacred,  one  is  Kshir  Bhowani,  a 
spring  at  which  the  Divine  Motherhood  is 
worshipped,  and  the  other  Amarnath,  a  moun- 
tain-cave in  which  there  is  an  ice-emblem  of 
Siva.  And  the  most  notable  events  of  our 
summer  were  his  pilgrimages  to  these  two 
shrines.  But  we  also  were  ambitious.  We 
desired  to  be  taught  to  meditate,  in  system- 
atic fashion,  and  begged  to  be  allowed  to 


make  a  retreat  in  some  lonely  place,  where 
we  might  keep  hours  of  silence,  and  make 
our  attempts  under  definite  direction.  For 
this  season,  tents  were  brought,  and  we  camp- 
ed for  a  week  on  the  edge  of  a  forest,  at 
a  place  called  Achhabal,  in  the  beginning  of 
September.  The  pilgrimage  to  Amarnath  had 
been  made  at  the  beginning  of  August,  and 
the  Swami  left  us  for  Kshir  Bhowani  on  the 
thirtieth  of  September.  Finally  we  parted 
from  him,  and  our  journey  was  over,  at  Bara- 
mulla,  October  the  twelfth. 

Even  apart  from  the  greater  revelations 
and  experiences,  flashes  from  the  beacon-fire 
of  that  life  in  whose  shadow  we  dwelt,  fell 
constantly  upon  us.  Once  he  had  just  return- 
ed from  an  absence,  and  as  he  sat  talking  of 
bhakti,  a  servant  came  to  say  his  meal  was 
ready.  But  we  could  see  how  intolerable  was 
the  thought  of  food,  to  one  who  was  still  liv- 
ing on  the  heights  of  the  love  of  God.  Agaia 
it  was  evening,  and  we  women-folk  were 



seated  in  the  boat  of  Sthir  Mata,  as  we  call- 
ed our  hostess,  chatting  in  low  tones,  in  the 
falling  dusk,  when  suddenly  he  came  in  to 
spend  a  few  minutes  with  us.  The  talk  turn- 
ed on  the  approaching  departure  for  Europe; 
but  it  soon  ended;  and  then  one  who  expect- 
ed to  be  left  alone  in  India,  spoke  of  how  the 
others  would  be  missed.  The  Swami  turned 
on  her  with  a  wonderful  gentleness.  "But  why 
so  serious  about  it  ?"  he  said.  "Why  not 
touch  hands  and  part  with  a  smile  ?  You  are 
so  morbid,  you  Westerns !  You  worship 
sorrow !  All  through  your  country  I  found 
that.  Social  life  in  the  West  is  like  a  peal  of 
laughter,  but  underneath,  it  is  a  wail.  It  ends 
In  a  sob.  The  fun  and  frivolity  are  all  on  the 
surface  :  really,  it  is  full  of  tragic  intensity. 
Now  here,  it  is  sad  and  gloomy  on  the  out- 
side, but  underneath  are  carelessness  and 

"You  know,  we  have  a  theory  that  the 
Universe  is  God's  manifestation  of  Himself, 



just  for  fun,  that  the  Incarnations  came  and 
lived  here,  'just  for  fun.'  Play,  it  was  all  play. 
Why  was  Christ  crucified  ?  It  was  mere  play. 
And  so  of  life.  Just  play  with  the  Lord.  Say, 
'It  is  all  play.  It  is  all  play.'  Do  you  do  any- 
thing ?"  And  then,  without  another  word,  he 
turned  and  went  out  into  the  starlight,  and 
passed  into  his  own  boat.  And  we  also,  in  the 
hush  of  the  river,  said  goodnight  and  parted. 
One  evening,  in  our  week  of  retreat,  we 
sat  under  the  great  trees  beside  the  stream, 
and  it  was  of  leadership  that  he  talked.  He 
began  by  comparing  certain  notable  move- 
ments of  the  hour,  of  which  one  had  grown 
daily  during  the  lifetime  of  its  founder,  both 
in  numbers  and  complexity,  while  the  other 
had  been  seen  breaking  up  into  its  compon- 
ent parts.  Finally  he  said  "I  am  persuaded, 
that  a  leader  is  not  made  in  one  life.  He  has 
to  be  born  for  it.  For  the  difficulty  is  not  in 
organisation,  and  making  plans;  the  test,  the 
real  test,  of  a  leader,  lies  in  holding  widely 



different  people  together,  along  the  line  of 
their  common  sympathies.  And  this  can  only 
be  done  unconsciously,  never  by  trying." 

From  this,  the  talk  somehow  strayed  to 
Plato,  and  someone  asked  for  an  explanation 
of  the  doctrine  of  Ideas.  He  gave  this,  and 
as  he  ended,  he  said,  addressing  one  of  the 
group  in  particular,  "And  so  you  see,  all  this 
is  but  a  feeble  manifestation  of  the  great  ideas 
which  alone  are  real  and  perfect.  Somewhere 
is  an  ideal  you,  and  here  is  an  attempt  to 
manifest  it  !  The  attempt  falls  short  still  in 
many  ways.  Still, — go  on  !  You  will  interpret 
the  ideal  some  day." 

"I  cannot  feel  the  longing  to  get  out  of 
life  that  Hindus  feel,"  said  one  on  another 
occasion,  in  response  to  something  he  had 
said  about  breaking  the  bonds  of  life.  "I 
think  I  would  a  great  deal  rather  come  back 
and  help  the  causes  that  interest  me,  than 
achieve  personal  salvation."  "That's  because 
you  cannot  overcome  the  idea  of  progress," 


he  retorted  quickly.  "But  things  do  not  grow 
better.  They  remain  as  they  were,  and  we 
grow  better,  by  the  changes  we  make 
in  them. ' 

This  last  sentence  has  to  myself  the  ring 
of  a  Veda.  "We  grow  better,  by  the  changes 
we  make  in  them."  Similiarly,  when  we  were 
at  Almora,  I  remember  a  certain  elderly  man 
with  a  face  full  of  amiable  weakness,  who 
came  to  put  to  him  a  question  about  karma. 
What  were  they  to  do,  he  asked,  whose 
karma  it  was,  to  see  the  strong  oppress  the 
weak  ?  The  Swami  turned  on  him  in  surpris- 
ed indignation.  "Why  thrash  the  strong,  of 
course  !"  he  said.  "You  forget  your  own  part 
in  this  karma. — Yours  is  always  the  right  to 
rebel  ! 



IT  was  in  the  course  of  an  open-air  meal 
in  the  Mogul  Gardens  at  Achhabal,  that 
the  Swami  suddenly  announced  that  he  would 
go  to  Amarnath  with  the  pilgrims,  and  take 
his  daughter  with  him.  Within  our  little 
party,  there  was  too  much  feeling  of  delight- 
ed congratulation,  for  any  obstacle  to  be  put 
in  the  way  of  the  fortunate  member.  And 
aided  thus,  as  well  as  by  the  State  officer, 
in  charge  of  the  journey,  preparations  went 
forward  for  this  unique  experience. 

Kashmir  seemed,  in  those  weeks,  to  be 
full  of  pilgrims.  We  left  Achhabal,  and 
returned  to  our  boats  at  Islamabad,  for  final 
arrangements,  and  everywhere  we  saw  the 
march  of  gathering  hosts.  It  was  all  very 
quiet  and  orderly  and  picturesque.  Two  or 
three  thousand  people  would  encamp  in  a 



field,  and  leave  It  before  dawn,  with  no 
trace  of  their  occupation,  save  the  ashes 
of  their  cooking-fires.  They  carried  a  bazaar 
with  them,  and  at  each  halting  place,  the 
pitching  of  tents,  and  opening  of  shops, 
took  place  with  incredible  rapidity.  Organi- 
sation appeared  to  be  instinctive.  A  broad 
street  would  run  through  the  middle  of  one 
part  of  the  camp,  and  here  one  could  buy 
dried  fruits,  milk,  dahls,  and  rice.  The  tent 
of  the  Tehsildar, — with  that  of  the  Swami 
on  one  side,  and  my  own  on  the  other, — was 
generally  placed  near  some  advantageous 
spot  for  the  lighting  of  the  evening  fire,  and 
thus  his  neighbourhood  tended  to  form  a 
social  centre. 

There  were  hundreds  of  monks,  of  all 
the  orders,  with  their  Gerrua  tents,  some 
no  larger  than  a  good-sized  umbrella,  and 
amongst  these,  the  Swami's  influence  appeared 
to  be  magnetic.  The  more  learned  of  them 
swarmed  about  him  at  every  halting  place, 



filling  his  tent,  and  remaining  absorbed  in 
conversation,  throughout  the  hours  of  day 
light.  The  talk  on  their  side,  he  told  us 
afterwards,  had  been  all  of  Siva,  and  they 
had  remonstrated  with  him  seriously,  when 
he  had  insisted,  occasionally,  on  drawing 
their  attention  to  the  world  about  them. 
Even  foreigners,  they  urged,  were  men. 
Why  make  such  distinctions  between  Swadesk 
and  bidesh  ?  Nor  could  many  of  them  under- 
stand the  warmth  of  his  love  and  sympathy 
for  Mohammedanism.  The  same  other-world- 
liness  that  made  Swadesh  and  bidesh  indis- 
tinguishable, also  prevented  these  simple  souls 
from  formally  conceiving  of  a  unity,  in  which 
Hindu  and  Mohammedan  were  but  rival 
elements.  The  soil  of  the  Punjaub,  they 
argued,  was  drenched  with  the  blood  of  those 
who  had  died  for  the  faith.  Here,  at  least, 
let  him  practise  a  narrow  orthodoxy!  In 
answer  to  this,  as  became  one  who  was,  in 
fact  'an  anachronism  of  the  future',  the 



Swami  made  those  practical  concessions  of 
the  moment  that  were  expressive  of  his 
love  for  the  brethren,  and  drove  his  prin- 
ciples home  to  their  minds  with  the  greater 
force  and  vehemence.  But,  as  he  told  the 
tale  of  his  warm  discussions,  the  foreign  mind 
could  not  help,  with  some  amusement,  noting 
the  paradox  that  the  Tehsildar  himself,  and 
many  officers  and  servants  of  the  pilgrimage, 
had  been  Mussulmans,  and  that  no  one  had 
dreamt  of  objecting  to  their  entering  the 
Cave  with  the  Hindu  worshippers,  on  the 
ultimate  arrival  at  the  shrine.  The  Tehsildar 
came  afterwards,  indeed,  with  a  group  of 
friends,  begging  formal  acceptance  by  the 
Swami  as  disciples ;  and  in  this,  no  one 
seemed  to  find  anything  incongruous  or 

Leaving  Islamabad,  we  caught  up  some- 
where with  the  pilgrimage,  and  camped 
with  it,  for  that  night,  at  Pawan,  a  place 
famous  for  its  holy  springs.  I  can  remember 



yet  the  brilliance  of  the  lights  reflected  in 
the  clear  black  waters  of  the  tank  that 
evening,  and  throngs  of  pilgrims  proceeding 
in  little  groups  from  shrine  to  shrine. 

At  Pahlgam — the  village  of  the  shepherds 
— the    camp     halted    for    a   day,    to    keep 
ekadasi.       It  was  a   beautiful  little    ravine 
floored,  for  the  most  part  with  sandy  islands 
in    the     pebble-worn    bed    of    a    mountain 
stream.     The  slopes  about  it  were  dark  with 
pine-trees,  and  over  the  mountain  at  its  head 
was  seen,   at    sunset,     the    moon,    not     yet 
full.      It  was  the  scenery  of  Switzerland  or 
Norway,    at    their    gentlest    and     loveliest* 
Here  we  saw  the  last  of  human  dwellings,  a 
bridge,  a  farm  house,  with  its  ploughed  fields, 
and    a    few    saeter-huts.     And   here,    on   a 
grassy  knoll,  when  the  final  march  began,  we 
left  the  rest  of  our  party  encamped. 

Through  scenes  of  indescribable  beauty, 
three  thousand  of  us  ascended  the  valleys 
that  opened  before  us  as  we  went.  The  first 



day  we  camped  in  a  pine-wood  ;  the  next, 
we  had  passed  the  snow-line,  and  pitched  our 
tents  beside  a  frozen  river.  That  night,  the 
great  camp-fire  was  made  of  juniper,  and 
the  next  evening,  at  still  greater  heights,  the 
servants  had  to  wander  many  miles,  in  search 
of  this  scanty  fuel.  At  last  the  regular  pathway 
came  to  an  end,  and  we  had  to  scramble  up 
and  down,  along  goat-paths,  on  the  face  of 
steep  declivities,  till  we  reached  the  boulder- 
strewn  gorge,  in  which  the  Cave  of  Amar- 
nath  was  situated.  As  we  'ascended  this,  we 
had  before  us  the  snow-peaks  covered  with  a 
white  veil,  newly-fallen  ;  and  in  the  Cave 
itself,  in  a  niche  never  reached  by  sunlight, 
shone  the  great  ice-lingam,  that  [must  have 
seemed,  to  the  awestruck  peasants  who 
first  came  upon  it,  like  the  waiting  Presence 
of  God. 

The  Swami  had  observed  every  rite  of 
the  pilgrimage,  as  he  came  along.  He  had 
told  his  beads,  kept  fasts,  and  bathed  in  the 



ice-cold  waters  of  five  streams  in  succession, 
crossing  the  river-gravels  on  our  second  day. 
And  now,  as  he  entered  the  Cave,  it  seemed 
to  him,  as  if  he  saw  Siva  made  visible  before 
him.  Amidst  the  buzzing,  swarming  noise  of 
the  pilgrim-crowd,  and  the  overhead  fluttering 
of  the  pigeons,  he  knelt  and  prostrated  two  or 
three  times,  unnoticed  ;  and  then,  afraid  lest 
emotion  might  overcome  him,  he  rose  and 
silently  withdrew.  He  said  afterwards  that 
in  these  brief  moments  he  had  received  from 
Siva  the  gift  of  Amar, — not  to  die,  until  he 
himself  had  willed  it,  In  this  way,  possibly, 
was  defeated  or  fulfilled  that  presentiment 
which  had  haunted  him  from  childhood,  that 
he  would  meet  with  death,  in  a  Siva  temple 
amongst  the  mountains. 

Outside  the  Cave,  there  was  no  Brahminic 
exploitation  of  the  helpless  people.  Amar- 
nath  is  remarkable  for  its  simplicity  and  close- 
ness to  nature.  But  the  pilgrimage  culminates 
-on  the  great  day  of  Rakhibandhan,  and  our 



wrists  were  tied  with  the  red  and  yellow 
threads  of  that  sacrament.  Afterwards,  we 
rested  and  had  a  meal,  on  some  high  boulders 
beside  the  stream,  before  returning  to  our  tents. 

The  Swami  was  full  of  the  place.  He 
felt  that  he  had  never  been  to  anything 
so  beautiful.  He  sat  long  silent.  Then 
he  said  dreamily,  "I  can  well  imagine 
how  this  Cave  was  first  discovered.  A  party 
of  shepherds,  one  summer  day,  must  have 
lost  their  flocks,  and  wandered  in  here  in 
search  of  them.  jThen,  when  they  came 
home  to  the  valleys,  they  told  how  they  had 
suddenly  come  upon  Mahadev  !  " 

Of  my  Master  himself,  in  any  case,  a  like 
story  was  true.  The  purity  and  whiteness 
of  the  ice-pillar  had  startled  and  enwrapt  him. 
The  cavern  had  revealed  itself  to  him  as  the 
secret  of  Kailas.  And  for  the  rest  of  his  life, 
he  cherished  the  memory  of  how  he  had  en- 
tered a  mountain-cave,  and  come  face  to  face 
there  with  the  Lord  Himself. 

1 60 


Everything  in  our  life  up  to  the  time  of 
the  pilgrimage  to  Amarnath  had  beerf 
associated  with  the  thought  of  Siva. 
Each  step  had  seemed  to  draw  us  closer  to 
the  great  snow-mountains  that  were »  at 
once  His  image  and  His  home.  The 
young  moon  resting  at  night-fall  above  the 
glacier-cleft  and  the  tossing  pines,  had 
suggested  irresistibly  the  brow  of  the  Great 
God.  Above  all,  that  world  of  meditation 
on  whose  outskirts  we  dwelt,  had  Him  as  its 
heart  and  centre,  rapt  and  silent,  "above  all 
qualities  and]  beyond  the  reach  of  thought." 
Undoubtedly  this  Hindu  idea  of  Siva  is  the 
highest  conception  of  God  as  approached  by 
the  spiritual  intuition  of  man.  He  is  the 
Divine  accessible  within,  and  purified  of  all 



It  may  possibly  be,  that  in  the  pursuit  of 
uttermost  knowledge,  this  personification 
of  the  unmanifesting,  is  necessarily  succeeded 
by  the  opposite  conception  of  God — as  the 
power  behind  all  manifestation.  It  is  clear 
at  least  that  he  who  has  sounded  the  depths 
of  both  these,  will  be  capable  of  understand- 
ing the  significance,  of  every  possible  human 
symbol  of  the  divine,  since  all  must  be 
included  in  one  or  other  of  the  two.  If  the 
Supreme  is  thought  of  by  man  at  all,  it 
must  be  either  as  Infinite  Being  or  as 
Infinite  Power.  Whether  there  is  any  such 
law  of  nature  behind  the  fact  or  not,  must 
remain  a  speculation.  In  some  imperceptible 
way,  at  all  events,  the  Swami's  attention 
appeared  to  shift,  during  the  month  of 
August,  from  Siva  to  the  Mother.  He  was 
always  singing  the  songs  of  Ram  Prasad,  as 
if  he  would  saturate  his  own  mind  with  the 
conception  of  himself  as  a  child.  He  told 
some  of  us  once,  that  wherever  he  turned 



•he  was  conscious  of  the  presence  of  the 
Mother,  as  if  She  were  a  person  in  the  room. 
It  was  always  his  habit  to  speak  simply  and 
naturally  of  ''Mother,"  and  some  of  the 
older  members  of  the  party  caught  this,  so 
that  such  phrases  as  "Well,  well !  Mother 
knows  best !"  were  a  constant  mode  of 
thought  and  speech  amongst  us,  when,  for 
instance,  some  cherished  intention  had  to  be 

Gradually,  however,  his  absorption 
became  more  intense.  He  complained 
bitterly  of  the  malady  of  thought,  which 
would  consume  a  man,  leaving  him  no  time 
for  sleep  or  rest,  and  would  often  become  as 
insistent  as  a  human  voice.  He  had  con- 
'  stantly  striven  to  make  clear  to  us  the  ideal 
of  rising  beyond  the  pairs  of  opposites, 
beyond  pain  and  pleasure,  good  and  evil 
alike, — that  conception  which  forms  the 
Hindu  solution  of  the  problem  of  sin, — but 
now  he  seemed  to  fasten  his  whole  attention 



on  the  dark,  the  painful,  and  the  inscrutable, 
in  the  world,  with  the  determination  to  reach 
by  this  particular  road  the  One  Behind 
Phenomena.  Baffled  as  he  found  himself 
in  the  object  of  his  visit  to  Kashmir,*  "the 
worship  of  the  Terrible"  now  became  his 
whole  cry.  Illness  or  pain  would  always  draw 
forth  the  reminder  that  "She  is  the  organ. 
She  is  the  pain.  And  She  is  the  Giver  of 
pain,  Kali !  Kali !  Kali !  " 

His  brain  was  teeming  with  thoughts,  he 
said  one  day,  and  his  fingers  would  not  rest 
till  they  were  written  down.  It  was  that  same 
evening  that  we  came  back  to  our  houseboat 
from  some  expedition,  and  found  waiting  for 
us,  where  he  had  called  and  left  them,  his 
manuscript  lines  on  "Kali  the  Mother.1* 
Writing  in  a  fever  of  inspiration,  he  had 
fallen  on  the  floor,  when  he  had  finished — 

*  He  had  come,  at  the  express  invitation  of  the  Maharajah, 
to  choose  a  piece  of  land,  for  the  establishment  of  a  math  and  Sans- 
krit college.  But  his  choice  was  twice  vetoed,  on  the  list  of  agenda 
for  Council  by  Sir  Adalbert  Talbot,  then  acting  as  Resident.  Thus 
it  could  not  even  be  discussed. 



as    we  learnt     afterwards, — exhausted   with 
his  own  intensity. 


The  stars  are  blotted  out 
The  clouds  are  covering  clouds, 
It  is  darkness  vibrant,  sonant. 
In  the  roaring,  whirling  wind, 
Are  the  souls  of  a  million  lunatics, 
Just  loosed  from  the  prison  house, 
Wrenching  trees  by  the  roots 
Sweeping  all  from  the  path. 
The  sea  has  joined  the  fray 
And  swirls  up  mountain  waves, 
To  reach  the  pitchy  sky. 
The  flash  of  lurid  light 
Reveals  on  every  side 
A  thousand,  thousand  shades 
Of  death,  begrimed  and  black. 

Scattering  plagues  and  sorrows, 

Dancing  mad  with  joy, 

Come,  Mother,  come  ! 



For  Terror  is  Thy  name. 

Death  is  in  Thy  breath. 

And  every  shaking  step 

Destroys  a  world  for  e'er. 

Thou  "Time"  the  All- Destroyer ! 
Come,  O  Mother,  come ! 

Who  dares  misery  love, 

Dance  in  destruction's  dance, 

And  hug  the  form  of  death,— 

To  him  the  Mother  comes. 

About  this  time,  he  had  taken  his  boat 
away  from  our  vicinity,  and  only  a  young 
Brahmo  doctor,  who  was  also  living  in 
Kashmir  that  summer, — and  whose  kindness 
and  devotion  to  him  were  beyond  all  praise, 
— was  allowed  to  know  where  he  was,  and 
to  enquire  about  his  daily  needs.  The  next 
evening  the  doctor  went,  as  usual,  but  find- 
ing him  lost  in  thought,  retired  without 
speaking,  and  the  following  day,  September 
the  thirtieth,  he  had  gone,  leaving  word  that 
he  was  not  to  be  followed,  to  Kshir  Bhowani, 

1 66 


the  coloured  springs.      He  was  away,   from 
that  day  till  October  the  sixth. 

*  *  £  *=  * 

In  the  afternoon  of  that  day  we  saw  him 
coming  back  to  us,  up  the  river.  He  stood  in 
front  of  the  dunga,  grasping  with  one  hand  the 
bamboo  roof-pole,  and  with  the  other  holding 
yellow  flowers.  He  entered  our  houseboat, 
— a  transfigured  presence,  and  silently  passed 
from  one  to  another  blessing  us,  and  putting 
the  marigolds  on  our  heads.  "I  offered  them 
to  Mother,"  he  said  at  last,  as  he  ended  by 
handing  the  garland  to  one  of  us.  Then 
he  sat  down.  "No  more  'Hari  Om  !'  It  is  all 
'Mother,'  now  !"  he  said,  with  a  smile.  We 
all  sat  silent.  Had  we  tried  to  speak,  we 
should  have  failed,  so  tense  was  the  spot, 
with  something  that  stilled  thought.  He 
opened  his  lips  again.  "All  my  patriotism  is 
gone.  Everything  is  gone.  Now  it's  only 
'Mother  Mother !' 

"I     have    been     very   wrong,"    he   said 



simply,  after  another  pause.  "Mother  said 
to  me  'What,  even  if  unbelievers  should 
enter  My  temples,  and  defile  My  images  ! 
What  is  that  to  you  ?  Do  you  protect  ME  ? 
Or  do  I  protect  you  ?'  So  there  is  no  more 
patriotism.  I  am  only  a  little  child  !" 

Then  he  spoke  on  indifferent  matters, 
about  the  departure  for  Calcutta,  which  he 
desired  to  make  at  once,  with  a  word  or  two 
as  to  the  experience  of  physical  ill  into 
which  his  perplexities  of  mind  had  translated 
themselves,  throughout  the  past  week.  "I 
may  not  tell  you  more  now  :  it  is  not  in  order," 
he  said  gently,  adding,  before  he  left  us, 
— "But  spiritually,  spiritually,  I  was  not 
bound  down  !" 

We  saw  very  little  of  the  Swami,  during" 
the  next  few  days.  Before  breakfast  the 
next  morning,  indeed,  two  of  us  were  with 
him  on  the  river-bank  for  a  moment,  when, 
seeing  the  barber,  he  said  "All  this  must  go !" 
and  left  us,  to  come  out  again  half-an-hour 

1 68 


later,  without  a  hair.  Somehow,  in  ways 
and  words  that  could  scarcely  be  recounted, 
came  to  us  now  and  then  a  detail  of  that 
austerity,  by  which,  in  the  past  week,  such 
illumination  had  come.  We  could  picture 
the  fasting  ;  the  offering  of  milk  and  rice 
and  almonds  daily,  in  the  spring  ;  and  the 
morning  worship  of  a  Brahmin  pundit's  little 
daughter,  as  Uma  Kumari — the  Divine 
Virgin  ; — the  whole,  meanwhile,  in  such  a  pas- 
sion of  self-renunciation,  that  not  one  wave 
of  reaction  could  be  found  in  his  conscious- 
ness for  any  injury,  however  great. 

A  man  came  one  day  to  ask  a  question, 
and  the  Swami,  in  monastic  dress  and  with 
shaven  head,  happened  to  enter.  "Ought 
one  to  seek  an  opportunity  of  death,  in  de- 
fence of  right,  or  ought  one  to  take  the 
lesson  of  the  Gita,*  and  learn  never  to 
react  ?"  was  the  problem  put  to  him.  "I  am 

*  It  is  perhaps  worth  while  to  say  that  for  my  own  part  I 
•could  never  understand  how  this  enquirer  gathered  this  particular 
lessun  from  the  Gita  ! 



for  no  reaction,"  said  the  Swami,  speaking 
slowly,  and  with  a  long  pause.  Then  he 
added  " — for  Sannyasins.  Self-defence  for 
the  householder !" 

The  mood  seemed  to  grow  upon  him, 
and  deepen.  He  spoke  of  this  time  once, 
as  'a  crisis  in  his  life.'  Again,  he  called  him- 
self a  child,  seated  on  the  lap  of  the  Mother, 
and  being  caressed.  And  the  thought  came 
to  us,  unspoken,  that  these  Her  kisses  might 
make  themselves  known  to  mind  and  nerves 
as  anguish,  yet  be  welcomed  with  rapture  of 
recognition.  Did  he  not  say  "There  could 
be  bliss  in  torture" 

As  soon  as  it  could  be  arranged,  we  left 
for  Baramulla,  which  we  reached  on  Tuesday 
evening,  October  the  eleventh.  It  had 
been  settled  that  he  would  go  on  to  Lahore 
the  following  afternoon,  while  we  waited 
some  days  longer.  On  the  way  down  the 
river,  we  saw  very  little  of  him.  He  was 
almost  entirely  silent,  and  took  long  walks  by 



the  riverside  alone,  rarely  even  entering  our 
houseboat  for  a  moment.  His  health  had 
been  completely  broken,  by  the  labours  of 
his  return  to  India ;  and  the  physical  ebb  of 
the  great  experience  through  which  he  had 
just  passed — for  even  suffering  becomes  im- 
possible, when  a  given  point  of  weariness  is 
reached  ;  and  similarly,  the  body  refuses  to 
harbour  a  certain  intensity  of  the  spiritual 
life  for  an  indefinite  period  ! — was  leaving 
him,  doubtless,  more  exhausted  than  he  him- 
self suspected.  All  this  contributed,  one  ima- 
gines, to  a  feeling  that  none  of  us  knew  for 
how  long  a  time  we  might  now  be  parting, 
and  it  was  this  thought,  perhaps,  that  brought 
him  to  say  goodbye  on  Wednesday  morning, 
as  we  finished  breakfast,  and  made  him  stay 
to  talk. 

Hour  after  hour  went  by,  that  morning, 
and  it  is  easier  to  tell  of  the  general 
impression  created,  than  to  build  it  up  again 
detail  by  detail.  We  who  listened,  seemed 



to  be  carried  into  an  innermost  sanctuary. 
Sometimes  he  would  sing  and  translate  some 
snatch  or  other  of  devotional  poetry,  always  to 
the  Mother.  And  it  was  always  Kali,  with 
Her  foot  on  the  heart  of  Her  worshipper, 
Who  grew  clearer  to  our  minds  ;  though  he 
dwelt  much,  and  over  and  over  again,  on  the 
thought  of  the  Mother,  seated  in  the  market- 
place of  this  world,  playing  amongst  the 
players  ;  flying  Her  own  kite,  and  in  a 
hundred  thousand  cutting  the  strings  of 
only  one  or  two. 

"Scattering    plagues    and    sorrows,"    he 
quoted  from  his  own  verses, 

"Dancing  mad  with  joy, 

Come,  Oh  Mother,  come  ! 

For  Terror  is  Thy  name  ! 

Death — is  in  Thy  breath. 

And  every  shaking  step 

Destroys  a  world  for  e'er" 

"It  all  came  true,  every  word  of  it,"  he 
interrupted  himself  to  say. 



"Who  dares  misery  love. 

Dance  in  Destruction's  dance, 

And  hug  the  form  of  death, — 

To  him  the  Mother  does  indeed  come. 
I  have  proved  it.  For  I  have  hugged  the 
form  of  Death  !" 

He  spoke  of  the  future.  There  was 
nothing  to  be  desired,  but  the  life  of  the 
wanderer,  in  silence  and  nudity,  on  the  banks 
of  the  Ganges.  He  would  have  nothing. 
"Swamiji"  was  dead  and  gone.  Who  was 
he,  that  he  should  feel  responsible  for  teach- 
ing the  world  ?  It  was  all  fuss  and  vanity. 
The  Mother  had  no  need  of  him,  but  only 
he  of  Her.  Even  work,  when  one  had  seen 
this,  was  nothing  but  illusion. 

There  was  no  way  but  love.  If  people 
sinned  against  us,  we  must  love  them  till  it 
was  impossible  for  them  to  resist  it.  That 
was  all.  Yet,  as  I  write  the  words,  I  know 
well  that  I  can  give  no  idea  of  the  vastness 
of  which  all  this  was  utterance, — as  if  no 



blow,  to  any  in  the  world,  could  pass  and 
leave  our  Master's  heart  untouched  ;  as  if  no 
pain,  even  to  that  of  death,  could  elicit  any- 
thing but  love  and  blessing. 

He  told  us  the  story  of  Vasishtha 
and  Viswamitra ;  of  Vasishtha's  hundred 
descendants  slain  ;  and  the  king  left  alone, 
landless  and  crownless,  to  live  out  his  life. 
Then  he  pictured  the  hut  standing  in  the 
moonlight,  amongst  the  trees,  and  Vasishtha 
and  his  wife  within.  He  is  poring  intently 
over  some  precious  page,  written  by  his  great 
rival,  when  she  draws  near  and  hangs  over  him 
for  a  moment,  saying,  "Look,  how  bright  is 
the  moon  tonight !"  and  he,  without  looking 
up, — "But  ten  thousand  times  brighter,  my 
love,  is  the  intellect  of  Viswamitra!" 

All  forgotten!  the  deaths  of  his  hundred 
children,  his  own  wrongs,  and  his  sufferings, 
and  his  heart  lost  in  admiration  of  the  genius 
of  his  foe  !  Such,  said  the  Swami,  should  be 
our  love  also,  like  that  of  Vasishtha  for 



Viswamitra,  without  the  slightest  tinge  of 
personal  memory. 

At  this  moment,  a  peasant  brought  sprays 
of  pear-blossom,  and  laid  them  down  on  the 
table  at  which  we  sat.  And  one  of  us  lifted 
them,  saying,  "Swami!  these  were  made  for 
worship,  for  they  will  bear  no  fruits!"  But  he 
looked  at  her,  smiling,  and  she  could  not 
break  the  spell,  to  offer  them. 

And  so  he  went.  We  all,  servants  and 
boat-people,  friends  and  disciples,  parents  and 
children,  accompanied  him  to  the  tonga  on 
the  roadside,  to  say  goodbye.  One  sturdy 
little  figure,  the  four-year-old  daughter  of 
his  chief  boatman,  whose  devotion  to  him 
we  had  long  noted,  trotted  determinedly  at 
his  side,  with  a  tray  of  fruit  for  his  journey 
on  her  black  head,  and  stood,  smiling  fare- 
well, as  he  drove  away.  And  we,  not  less 
deeply  touched  than  this  little  child,  but 
infinitely  less  unselfish,  in  our  grown-up 
complexity  of  thought  and  emotion,  knew  not 



when  we  should  look  upon  his  face  again, 
yet  failed  not  to  realise  that  we  had  that  day 
lived  through  hours,  within  whose  radiance 
all  our  future  would  be  passed, 




THE  Swami  had  one  remarkable  charac- 
teristic. He  made  all  who  were  near 
him  appear  great.  In  (his  presence,  one 
saw  and  loved,  at  its  highest,  their  un- 
spoken purpose ;  and  even  their  faults  and 
failings,  if  one  realised  them,  would  seem  to 
be  justified  and  accounted  for.  We  surely 
stand  at  many  different  grades  of  perception ! 
Some  of  us  see  and  recognise  only  the  form 
and  the  acts  of  a  man.  Others  will  refer  his 
features  to  a  central  type,  and  note  on  his 
external  aspect  the  tide-marks  of  the  will,  in 
all  its  mixedness  and  complexity  of  ebb  and 
flow.  But  still  others  are  aware  of  a  vast 
magazine  of  cause  behind,  against  which  a 
life  stands  out  as  a  single  fragmentary 
effect.  We  ourselves  cannot  gauge  the 



knowledge  that  prompts  our  own  words 
and  deeds. 

Something  after  this  fashion  was  the 
vision  that  grew  upon  me,  of  the  world  into 
which  I  had  entered,  as  the  Swami's  disciple, 
on  my  arrival  in  Calcutta,  early  in  November 
1898.  During  the  months  between  that  date 
and  the  following  July,  I  saw  him  always  in 
the  midst  of  his  own  people,  without  even  the 
friendly  intervention  of  a  European  home. 
I  became  myself  one  of  the  people,  living 
with  them  in  surroundings  which  his  genius 
had  created.  And  thus  enveloped  by  his  inter- 
pretation, thus  dominated  by  his  passionate  love 
of  his  own  race,  it  was  like  walking  in  some 
twilight  of  the  gods,  where  the  forms  of  men 
and  women  loomed  larger  than  their  wont. 

It  had  been  taken  for  granted  from  the 
first,  that  at  the  earliest  opportunity  I  would 
open  a  girls'  school  in  Calcutta.  And 
it  was  characteristic  of  the  Swami's  methods, 
that  I  had  not  been  hurried  in  the  initiation 


^of  this  work,  but  had  been  given  leisure  and 
travel  and  mental  preparation,  To  myself  it 
was  clear  that  this  school,  when  opened,  must 
at  first  be  only  tentative  and  experimental.  I 
had  to  learn  what  was  wanted,  to  determine 
where  I  myself  stood,  to  explore  the  very  world 
of  which  my  efforts  were  to  become  a  part. 
The  one  thing  that  I  knew  was,  that  an 
educational  effort  must  begin  at  the  stand- 
point of  the  learner,  and  help  him  to  develop- 
ment in  his  own  way.  But  I  had  no  definite 
plans  or  expectations,  save  to  make  some 
educational  discovery  which  would  be 
qualitatively  true  and  universally  applicable, 
to  the  work  of  the  modern  education  of 
Indian  women.* 

Others,    however,  had  probably  thought 
more  largely  of  the  matter,  and   I  had  heard 

*It  must  here  be  pointed  out  that  the  school  in  question  proved 
•«ven  more  tentative  than  I  had  imagined.  In  the  autumn  of  1903, 
the  whole  work  for  Indian  women  was  taken  up  and  organised  by 
an  American  disciple,  Sister  Christine,  and  to  her,  and  her  faithful- 
ness and  initiative,  alone,  it  owes  all  its  success  up  to  the  present. 
F--  a  the  experiment  which  I  made  in  1898  to  1899,  was  gathered 
•*•*••  /  »y  own  education.. — Nivtdita. 



much  as  to  the  desirablity  of  holding  myself 
above  all  sects.  But  all  these  questions  were 
solved  once  for  all,  on  a  certain  evening  in 
camp,  in  the  forest  of  Vernag,  in  Kashmir, 
when  the  Swami  turned  to  me,  as  we  all  sat  in 
a  circle  about  the  log-fire,  and  asked  me  what 
were  now  my  plans  for  the  school.  I  replied 
eagerly,  begging  to  be  freed  from  collaborators, 
to  be  allowed  to  begin  in  a  small  way, 
spelling  out  my  method  ;  and  urging,  above 
all,  the  necessity  of  a  definite  religious  colour, 
and  the  usefulness  of  sects. 

The  Swami  listened  and  accepted,  and  as 
far  as  his  loyalty  went  to  every  wish  of  mine, 
in  this  matter,  thenceforth,  he  might  have 
been  the  disciple  and  1  the  teacher.  Only  in 
one  respect  was  he  inflexible.  The  work  for 
the  education  of  Indian  women- to  which  he 
would  give  his  name,  might  be  as  sectarian 
as  I  chose  to  make  it.  "You  wish  through  a 
sect  to  rise  beyond  all  sects,"  had  been  his 
sole  reply  to  this  part  of  my  statement.  He 

1 80 


withdrew,  at  the  first  sign  of  hesitation  on 
my  side,  the  name  of  an  Indian  lady  whose 
help  had  been  proffered.  But  he  would  not 
on  the  other  hand,  countenance  my  own 
seeking  of  assistance  amongst  the  few 
acquaintances  I  had  already  made.  For  the 
-ocean  of  Indian  character  I  had  as  yet  no 
plummet,  and  it  was  safer  to  go  long  unaided 
than  to  commit  an  error  at  the  start. 

It  was  to  carry  out  this  plan,  then,  that  I 
.arrived  in  Calcutta  alone,  in  the  beginning  of 
November.  I  was  able  to  find  my  way  at 
once,  from  the  station  to  the  north  end  of 
the  town.  But  once  there,  with  insular 
rigidity,  I  insisted  on  being  made  the  guest 
of  the  women.  The  Swami  was  himself 
staying,  as  it  happened,  at  a  sort  of  parish- 
room  of  the  Order,  in  Calcutta.  Through 
him,  therefore,  the  negotiations  were  carried 
on.  The  widow  of  Sri  Ramakrishna — Sarada 
Devi,  or  "the  Holy  Mother,"  as  she  is  called 
amongst  us — was  living  close  by,  with  her 



community  of  ladies  ;  and  in  the  course  of  the- 
day,  I  was  accorded  possession  of  an  empty 
room  in  her  house. 

This  is  one  of  the  occasions  on  which 
people  look  back,  feeling  that  their  courage 
was  providentially  determined  by  their  igno- 
rance. It  is  difficult  to  see  how  else  a  neces- 
sary solution  could  have  been  found.  Yet 
had  I  deeply  understood  at  the  time,  the 
degree  of  social  embarrassment  which  my 
rashness  might  have  brought,  not  only  upon 
my  innocent  hostess,  but  also  on  her  kindred 
in  their  distant  village,  I  could  not  have 
acted  as  I  did.  At  any  cost,  I  must  in  that 
case  have  withdrawn.  As  it  was,  however,  I 
imagined  caste  to  be  only  a  foolish  personal 
prejudice, — which  must  yield  to  knowledge,- 
against  some  supposed  uncleanness  of  foreign 
habits  ;  and  thus  cheerfully  assuming  all  the 
ignorance  to  be  on  her  side,  confidently  forced 
myself  upon  this  Indian  lady's  hospitality. 
In  the  event,  fortunately,  the  Swami's- 



influence  proved  all-powerful,  and  I  was 
accept  ed  by  society.  Within  a  week  or  ten 
days,  a  house  in  the  close  neighbourhood 
was  found  for  me.  But  even  then,  I  spent 
all  my  afternoons  in  the  Mother's  room.  And 
when  the  hot  weather  came,  it  was  by  her 
express  command  that  I  returned  to  her 
better-arranged  house,  for  sleeping-quarters. 
And  then  I  occupied  no  room  apart,  but 
shared  the  cool  and  simple  dormitory  of  the 
others,  with  its  row  of  mats,  pillows,  and 
nets,  against  the  polished  red  earthenware  of 
the  floor. 

It  was  a  strange  household,  of  which  I 
now  found  myself  a  part.  Downstairs,  in  one 
of  the  guard -rooms  beside  the  front-door, 
lived  a  monk,  whose  severe  austerities,  from 
his  youth  up,  had  brought  him  to  the  thres- 
hold of  death,  from  consumption,  in  the  prime 
of  manhood.  To  his  room  I  used  to  go,  for 
Bengali  lessons.  In  the  kitchen  behind, 
worked  a  disciple  of  his,  and  a  Brahmin  cook; 



while  to  us  women-folk  belonged  all  above- 
stairs,  with  roofs  and  terraces,  and  the  sight 
of  the  Ganges  hard  by. 

Of  the  head  of  our  little  community,  it 
seems  almost  presumptuous  to  speak.  Her 
history  is  well-known.  How  she  was  wedded 
at  five,  and  forgotten  by  her  husband  till  she 
was  eighteen  ;  how  she  then,  with  her  mother's 
permission,  made  her  way  on  foot  from  her 
village-home  to  the  temple  of  Dakshineswar 
on  the  Ganges-side,  and  appeared  before 
him;  how  he  remembered  the  bond,  but  spoke 
of  the  ideals  of  the  life  he  had  adopted  ;  and 
how  she  responded  by  bidding  him  Godspeed 
in  that  life,  and  asking  only  to  be  taught  by 
him  as  the  Guru, — all  these  things  have  been 
told  of  her  many  times  over.  From  that  time 
she  lived  faithfully  by  his  side  for  many  years, 
in  a  building  in  the  same  garden,  at  once 
nun  and  wife,  and  always  chief  of  his  disci- 
ples. She  was  young  when  her  tutelage  be- 
gan and  in  hours  of  quiet  talk,  she  will  tell 



sometimes  in  how  many  directions  his  train- 
ing extended.  He  was  a  great  lover  of  order, 
and  taught  her  even  such  trifles  as  where  to 
keep  her  lamp  and  its  appurtenances,  during 
the  day.  He  could  not  endure  squalor,  and 
notwithstanding  severe  asceticism,  he  loved 
grace  and  beauty  and  gentle  dignity  of  bear- 
ing. One  story  that  is  told  of  this  period  of 
her  life,  is  of  her  bringing  to  him  a  basket  of 
fruit  and  vegetables  one  day,  with  all  the 
eagerness  and  pride  of  a  happy  child.  He 
looked  at  it  gravely,  and  said  "But  why  so 
•extravagant  ?" 

—"At  least  it  was  not  for  myself!"  said 
the  young  wife,  all  her  sunshine  gone,  in 
sudden  disappointment,  and  she  turned  and 
went  away,  crying  quietly.  But  this  Sri  Rama- 
krishna  could  not  bear  to  see.  "Go,  one  of 
you,"  he  said,  turning  to  the  boys  beside  him, 
"And  bring  her  back.  My  very  devotion  to 
•God  will  take  wings,  if  I  see  her  weep !" 

So  dear  she  was  to  him.     Yet  one  of  her 



most  striking  traits  is  the  absolute  detach- 
ment with  which  she  speaks  of  the  husband 
she  worships.  She  stands  like  a  rock,  through 
loud  and  shine,  as  those  about  her  tell,  for 
the  fulfilment  of  every  word  of  his.  But 
"Guru  Deb  !"  "Divine  Master,"  is  the  name 
she  calls  him  by,  and  not  one  word  of  her 
uttering  ever  conveys  the  slightest  trace  of 
self-assertion  with  regard  to  him.  One  who 
did  not  know  who  she  was,  would  never  sus- 
pect, from  speech  of  hers,  that  her  right  was 
stronger,  or  her  place  closer,  than  that  of  any 
other  of  those  about  her.  It  would  seem  as  if 
the  wife  had  been  long  ago  forgotten,  save 
for  her  faithfulness,  in  the  disciple.  Yet  so 
deeply  is  she  reverenced  by  all  about  her, 
that  there  is  not  one  of  them  who  would,  for 
instance,  occupy  a  railway  berth  above  her, 
when  travelling  with  her.  Her  very  presence 
is  to  them  a  consecration. 

To  me  it  has  always  appeared  that  she  is- 
Sri  Ramakrishna's  final  word  as  to  the  ideal 



of  Indian  womanhood.  But  is  she  the  last  of 
an  old  order,  or  the  beginning  of  a  new  ?  In 
her,  one  sees  realised  that  wisdom  and  sweet- 
ness to  which  the  simplest  of  women  may 
attain.  And  yet,  to  myself,  the  stateliness  of 
her  courtesy  and  her  great  open  mind  are 
almost  as  wonderful  as  her  sainthood.  I  have 
never  known  her  hesitate,  in  giving  utterance 
to  large  and  generous  judgment,  however 
new  or  complex  might  be  the  question  put 
before  her.  Her  life  is  one  long  stillness  of 
prayer.  Her  whole  experience  is  of  theocratic 
civilisation.  Yet  she  rises  to  the  height  of 
every  situation.  Is  she  tortured  by  the 
perversity  of  any  about  her  ?  The  only  sign 
is  a  strange  quiet  and  intensity  that  comes 
upon  her.  Does  one  carry  to  her  some 
perplexity  or  mortification  born  of  social 
developments  beyond  her  ken  ?  With  un- 
erring intuition  she  goes  straight  to  the 
heart  of  the  matter,  and  sets  the  questioner 
in  the  true  attitude  to  the  difficulty.  Or  is 


there  need  for  severity  ?  No  foolish  senti- 
mentality causes  her  to  waver.  The  novice 
whom  she  may  condemn,  for  so  many  years 
to  beg  his  bread,  will  leave  the  place  within 
the  hour.  He  who  has  transgressed  her 
<:ode  of  delicacy  and  honour,  will  never  enter 
her  presence  again.  "Can't  you  see,"  said 
Sri  Ramakrishna,  to  one  who  had  erred  in 
some  such  way,  "Can't  you  see  that  the 
woman  in  her  is  wounded  ?  And  that  is 
dangerous !" 

And  yet  is  she,  as  one  of  her  spiritual 
children  said  of  her,  speaking  literally  of  her 
gift  of  song,  "full  of  music,"  all  gentleness,  all 
playfulness.  And  the  room  wherein  she 
worships,  withal,  is  filled  with  sweetness. 

The  Mother  can  read,  and  much  of  her 
time  is  passed  with  her  Ramayana.  But 
she  does  not  write.  Yet  it  is  not  to  be  sup- 
posed that  she  is  an  uneducated  woman. 
Not  only  has  she  had  long  and  arduous  ex- 
perience in  administration,  secular  and  reli- 



gious  ;    but  she    has  also    travelled    over   a 
great  part  of  India,  visiting  most  of  the  chief 
places  of  p  ilgrimage.    And  it  must  be  remem- 
bered  that  as  the  wife  of  Sri   Ramakrishna 
she  has  had  the  highest  opportunity  of  pe 
sonal     development   that    it   is    possible   to- 
enjoy       At  every  moment,  she  bears  uncons- 
cious   witness    to  this    association   with  the 
great.      But  in  nothing  perhaps  does  it  speak 
more   loudly   than   in   her   instant   power  ta 
penetrate  a  new  religious  feeling  or  idea. 

I  first  realised  this  gift  in  the  Holy 
Mother,  on  the  occasion  of  a  visit  that  she 
paid  us  in  recent  years,  on  the  afternoon  of  a 
certain  Easter- Day.  Before  that,  probably, 
I  had  always  been  too  much  absorbed,  when 
with  her,  in  striving  to  learn  what  she  re- 
presented, to  think  of  observing  her  in  the 
contrary  position.  On  this  particular  occasion, 
however,  after  going  over  our  whole  house, 
the  Mother  and  her  party  expressed  a  desire 
to  rest  in  the  chapel,  and  hear  something  of 



the  meaning  of  the  Christian  festival.  This 
was  followed  by  Easter  music,  and  singing, 
with  our  small  French  organ.  And  in  the 
swiftness  of  her  comprehension,  and  the 
depth  of  her  sympathy  with  these  resurrec- 
tion-hymns, unimpeded  by  any  foreignness 
or  unfamiliarity  in  them,  we  saw  revealed 
for  the  first  time,  one  of  the  most  im- 
pressive aspects  of  the  great  religious  culture 
of  Sarada  Devi.  The  same  power  is  seen  to 
a  certain  extent,  in  all  the  women  about  her, 
who  were  touched  by  the  hand  of  Sri  Rama- 
krishna.  But  in  her,  it  has  all  the  strength 
and  certainty  of  some  high  and  arduous  form 
of  scholarship. 

The  same  trait  came  out  again,  one 
evening,  when,  in  the  midst  of  her  little  circle, 
the  Holy  Mother  asked  my  Gurubkag'uti 
and  myself,  to  describe  to  her  a  European 
wedding.  With  much  fun  and  laughter, 
personating  now  the  "Christian  Brahmin," 
and  again  the  bride  and  bridegroom,  we 



•complied.     But  we  were   neither  of  us  pre- 
pared for  the  effect  of  the  marriage  vow. 

"For  better  for  worse,  for  richer  for  poorer, 
in  sickness  and  in  health, — till  death  us  do 
part,"  were  words  that  drew  exclamations 
of  delight  from  all  about  us.  But  none 
appreciated  them  as  did  the  Mother.  Again 
and  again  she  had  them  repeated  to  her. 
"Oh  the  Dharmmi  words!  the  righteous 
words!"  she  said. 

Amongst  the  ladies  who  lived  more 
or  less  continuously  in  the  household  of 
Sarada  Devi  at  this  time  were  Gopal's 
Mother,  Jogin- Mother,  Rose-Mother,  Sister 
Lucky,  and  a  number  of  others.  These  were 
all  widows, — the  first  and  the  last  child- 
widows — and  they  had  all  been  personal 
disciples  of  Sri  Ramakrishna  when  he  lived 
in  the  temple  garden  at  Dakshineshwar. 
Sister  Lucky,  or  Lakshmididi  as  is  the  Indian 
form  of  her  name,  was  indeed  a  niece  of 
his,  ?.  A  is  still  a  comparatively  young 



woman.  She  is  widely  sought  after  as  a 
religious  teacher  and  director,  and  is  a  most 
gifted  and  delightful  companion.  Sometimes 
she  will  repeat  page  after  page  of  some 
sacred  dialogue,  out  of  one  of  the  Jatras, 
or  religious  operas,  or  again  she  will  make 
the  quiet  room  ring  with  gentle  merriment, 
as  she  poses  the  different  members  of  the 
party  in  groups  for  religious  tableaux.  Now 
it  is  Kali,  and  again  Saraswati,  another  time 
it  will  be  Jagadhattri,  or  yet  again,  perhaps, 
Krishna  under  his  kadamba  tree,  that  she  will 
arrange,  with  picturesque  effect  and  scant 
dramatic  material. 

Amusements  like  these  were  much 
approved  of,  it  is  said,  by  Sri  Ramakrishna, 
who  would  sometimes  himself,  according  to- 
the  ladies,  spend  hours,  in  reciting  religious 
plays,  taking  the  part  of  each  player  in  turns, 
and  making  all  around  him  realise  the  ut- 
most meaning  of  the  prayers  and  worship 
uttered  in  the  poetry. 



Gopal's  Mother  was  an  old  old  woman. 
She  had  already  been  old,  fifteen  or  twenty 
years  before,  when  she  had  first  walked  over, 
one  day  at  noon,  from  her  cell  at  Kamarhatty, 
by  the  Ganges-side,  to  see  the  Master  in  the 
garden  at  Dakshineswar.  He  received  her, 
so  they  say,  standing  at  his  door,  as  if  he 
expected  her.  And  she,  whose  chosen  wor- 
ship had  been  for  many  years  Gopala,  the 
Babe  Krishna,  the  Christ-Child  of  Hinduism, 
— saw  Him  revealed  to  her,  as  in  a  vision,  as 
she  drew  near.  How  true  she  always  was  to 
this!  Never  once  through  all  the  years  that 
followed,  did  she  offer  salutation  to  Sri  Rama- 
krishna,  who  took  her  thenceforth  as  his 
mother.  And  never  have  I  known  her  to 
speak  of  our  Holy  Mother,  save  as  "my 

In  the  months  which  I  spent  with  the 
Mother  and  her  ladies,  Gopaler-Ma  would 
sometimes  be  in  Calcutta,  and  sometimes, 
for  weeks  together,  away  at  Kamarhatty. 




There,  a  few  of  us  went,  one  full-moon  night, 
to  visit  her.  How  beautiful  was  the  Ganges, 
as  the  little  boat  crept  on  and  on!  And 
how  beautiful  seemed  the  long  flight  of 
steps  rising  out  of  the  water,  and  leading  up, 
through  its  lofty  bathing-ghat,  past  the 
terraced  lawn,  to  the  cloister-like  verandah 
on  the  right,  where,  in  a  little  room, — built  pro- 
bably in  the  first  place  for  some  servant  of  the 
great  house  at  its  side, — Gopaler-Ma  had 
lived  and  told  her  beads,  for  many  a  year. 
The  great  house  was  empty  now.  And  her 
own  little  room  was  absolutely  without 
comforts.  Her  bed  was  of  stone,  and  her 
floor  of  stone,  and  the  piece  of  matting  she 
offered  her  guests  to  sit  on,  had  to  be  taken 
down  from  a  shell  and  unrolled.  The  handful 
of  parched  rice  and  sugar-candy  that  formed 
her  only  store,  and  were  all  that  she  could  give 
in  hospitality,  were  taken  from  an  earthen 
pot  that  hung  from  the  roof  by  a  few  cords. 
But  the  place  was  spotlessly  clean,  washed 



constantly  by  Ganges-water  of  her  own 
sturdy  carrying.  And  in  a  niche  near  her 
hand  lay  an  old  copy  of  the  Ramayana,  and 
her  great  horn  spectacles,  and  the  little  white 
bag  containing  her  beads.  On  those  beads, 
Gopaler-Ma  had  become  a  saint!  Hour 
after  hour,  day  after  day,  for  how  many  years, 
had  she  sat,  day  and  night,  absorbed  in  them  ! 

The  radiant  white  moonlight  made  the 
trees  and  flowers  outside  seem  like  black 
shadows,  moving  and  whispering  in  a  dream- 
world of  white  marble.  But  nothing  could 
seem  so  dream-like,  as,  in  the  midst  of  our 
busy  hurrying  world,  the  thought  of  spots 
like  this  little  cell  of  Gopaler-Ma,  enshrining 
her  silent  intensity  of  peace.  "Ah  !"  said 
the  Swami,  when  he  heard  of  the  visit,  "this 
is  the  old  India  that  you  have  seen,  the 
India  of  prayers  and  tears,  of  vigils  and  fasts, 
that  is  passsing  away,  never  to  return  !  " 

In  Calcutta,  Gopaler-Ma  felt,  perhaps  a 
little  more  than  others,  the  natural  shock  to 



habits  of  eighty  years'  standing  at  having  a 
European  in  the  house.  But  once  over-ruled, 
she  was  generosity  itself.  Conservative  she 
always  was  :  stubbornly  prejudiced,  never. 
As  far  as  the  daily  life  went,  there  can  have 
been  little  difference,  to  her  consciousness, 
between  her  own  hermitage  on  the  Ganges- 
bank,  and  the  conventual  round  of  the 
Mother's  household.  The  days  were  full  of 
peace  and  sweetness.  Long  before  dawn,  one 
and  another  rose  quietly  and  sat  on  the 
sleeping-mat,  from  which  sheets  and  pillows 
were  now  removed,  beads  in  hand,  and  face 
turned  to  the  wall.  Then  came  the  cleans- 
ing of  the  rooms  and  personal  bathing.  On 
great  days,  the  Mother  and  one  other  would 
be  carried  down  to  the  river  in  a  palkee,  and 
till  this  arrived,  the  time  was  spent  in  read- 
ing the  Ramayana. 

Then  came  the  Mother's  worship  in  her 
own  room,  with  all  the  younger  women  busy 
over  lights  and  incense,  Ganges-water  and 



flowers  and  offerings.  Even  Gopaler-Ma 
would  aid,  as  this  hour  came  round,  in  the 
preparation  of  fruits  and  vegetables.  The 
noon-day  meal  and  the  restful  afternoon 
would  pass,  and  again  as  evening  drew  on, 
the  servant  going  by  the  door  with  the  light- 
ed lamp  would  break  in  upon  our  chat. 
Groups  would  break  up.  Each  of  us  would 
prostrate  before  image  or  picture,  and  touch 
the  feet  of  Gopaler-Ma  and  the  Mother,  or 
accompany  the  latter  to  where  the  light  was 
placed,  near  the  basil-plant  on  the  terrace  ; 
and  fortunate  indeed  was  she  who  from  this 
was  permitted  to  go,  like  a  daughter,  and  sit 
beside  the  Mother  at  her  evening-meditation, 
there  to  learn  those  salutations  to  the  Guru 
which  formed,  with  her,  the  beginning  and 
end  of  all  worship. 

The  Indian  home  thinks  of  itself  as  per- 
petually chanting  the  beautiful  psalm  of 
custom.  To  it,  every  little  act  and  detail  of 
household  method,  and  personal  habit  is 



something  inexpressibly  precious  and  sacred, 
an  eternal  treasure  of  the  nation,  handed 
down  from  the  past,  to  be  kept  unflawed,  and 
passed  on  to  the  future.  This  mode  of 
thought  is  interwoven  with  the  passionate 
quest  of  ideal  purity,  and  with  the  worship  of 
motherhood,  to  make  the  guiding  and  re- 
straining force  of  the  whole  Indian  character. 
The  East  worships  simplicity,  and  herein  lies 
one  of  the  main  reasons  why  vulgarity  is  im- 
possible to  any  Eastern  people. 

But  no  one  can  point  out  such  a  secret  as 
this,  at  the  moment  when  one  needs  it,  for 
the  simple  reason  that  no  one  can  place  himself 
sufficiently  outside  his  own  consciousness  to 
find  out  that  others  were  born,  not  only  with 
a  different  equipment  of  associations,  but  al- 
so with  a  different  instinct  as  to  their  value. 
Fortunately,  however,  by  watching  the 
Swami,  and  puzzling  over  the  contrasts  he 
unconsciously  presented,  I  was  able  to  dis- 
cover it,  and  many  things  were  made  easier 



thereby.  No  one  was  ever  more  clearly 
aware  that  character  was  everything,  or,  as  he 
phrased  it,  that  "custom  was  nothing,"  yet 
none  could  be  more  carried  away  than  he 
by  the  perfection  and  significance  of  all  with 
which  he  was  familiar.  To  the  customs  of 
his  own  people  he  brought  the  eye  of  a  poet, 
and  the  imagination  of  a  prophet.  He  had 
learnt  that  ''custom  was  nothing"  when  he 
had  met  with  ideal  womanhood  and  faith 
amongst  polyandrous  peoples,  or  delicacy 
and  modesty  adorned  in  the  evening  costumes 
of  the  West.  But  these  things  had  not  shaken 
his  reverence  for  the  conventionalities  of  his 
own  country.  The  plain  white  veil  of  the 
widow  was  to  him  the  symbol  of  holiness,  as 
well  as  sorrow.  The  gerrua  rags  of  the 
sannyasin,  the  mat  on  the  floor  for  a  bed,  the 
green  leaf  instead  of  a  plate,  eating  with 
the  fingers,  the  use  of  the  national  costume, 
all  these  things  he  appeared  to  regard  as  a 
veritable  consecration.  Each  of  them  whisp- 



pered  to  him  some  secret  of  spiritual  power 
or  human  tenderness.  And  he  answered 
with  a  passion  of  loyalty  that  would  achieve 
for  them,  if  it  could,  the  very  conquest  of 
the  world  ;  but  failing,  would  think  all 
heaven  lay  in  sharing  their  defeat. 

Thus  he  taught  me  also  to  sing  the 
melodious  song,  in  feeble  and  faltering 
fashion,  it  is  true,  but  yet  in  some  sort  of 
unison  with  its  own  great  choir,  inasmuch  as, 
with  them,  I  learnt  to  listen  through  the 
music,  even  while  following,  for  the  revela- 
tion it  could  bring  of  a  nation's  ideals  and 
a  nation's  heart. 

Those  months  between  November  1898 
and  June  1899,  were  full  of  happy  glimpses. 
My  little  school  was  begun  on  the  day  of  Kali 
Puja,  and  the  Mother  herself  came  and  per- 
formed the  opening  ceremony  of  worship. 
At  the  end,  she  gave  a  whispered  blessing, 
spoken  aloud  by  Rose- Mother.  She  'prayed 
that  the  blessing  of  the  great  Mother  might 



be  upon  the  school,  and  the  girls  it  should 
train  be  ideal  girls.'  And  somehow  to  know 
that  an  undertaking  is  remembered  and 
fraught  with  prayer  in  the  lofty  mind  and 
heart  of  our  Mother,  is  to  me  a  benediction 
that  makes  content.  I  cannot  imagine  a 
grander  omen  than  her  blessing,  spoken  over 
the  educated  Hindu  womanhood  of  the  future. 

The  Swami  lived  commonly  at  the  mo- 
nastery, five  or  six  miles  out  of  Calcutta, 
and  on  the  opposite  bank  of  the  river.  But, 
on  his  frequent  visits  to  town,  he  would 
almost  always  send  for  me  to  join  him,  either 
at  the  noon  or  evening  meal,  and  to  those 
who  showed  me  kindness,  he  would  always 
make  a  special  effort  to  offer  hospitality  at 

Even  his  smallest  actions  often  had  a 
meaning  that  was  not  evident  to  a  new  eye. 
I  did  not  dream,  when  he  came  to  me  one 
day  and  asked  me  to  cook  for  him  a  certain 
invalid  dish,  that  there  was  any  special 



intention  in  the  request.  And  when  I  heard 
afterwards  that  on  receiving  it,  he  had  him- 
self eaten  very  little,  preferring  to  share  it 
with  those  about  him,  I  was  only  disappoint- 
ed, being  at  that  time  unaware  of  the  almost 
sacramental  nature  of  this  act.  It  was  many 
months  before  I  learnt  to  understand  the 
deep  forethought  and  kindness  with  which 
he — and  also  the  Holy  Mother  on  his  be- 
half,— was  constantly  working  to  make  a  place 
for  me,  as  a  foreigner,  in  Hindu  society. 
The  aim  of  his  whole  life  was,  as  he  had  said 
to  me,  in  Kashmir,  "to  make  Hinduism 
aggressive,  like  Christianity  and  Islam,  "  and 
this  was  one  of  the  ways  in  which  he  sought 
to  realise  that  ideal. 

The  same  purpose  spoke  again  in  his 
definition  of  the  aims  of  the  Order  of  Rama- 
krishna — •"  to  effect  an  exchange  of  the  high- 
est ideals  of  the  East  and  the  West,  and  to 
realise  these  in  practice " — a  definition 
whose  perfection,  and  special  appropriateness 



to  the  present  circumstances  of  India,  grows 
on  one  with  time.  To  his  mind,  Hinduism 
was  not  to  remain  a  stationary  system,  but 
to  prove  herself  capable  of  embracing  and 
welcoming  the  whole  modern  development. 
She  was  no  congeries  of  divided  sects,  but  a 
single  living  Mother-Church,  recognising  all 
that  had  been  born  of  her,  fearless  of  the 
new,  eager  for  the  love  of  her  children, 
wherever  they  might  be  found,  wise,  merci- 
ful, self-directing,  pardoning  and  reconciling. 
Above  all  she  was  the  holder  of  a  definite 
vision,  the  preacher  of  a  distinct  message 
amongst  the  nations.  To  prove  her  this, 
however,  he  relied  on  no  force  but  that  of 
character.  The  building  of  the  temple  of 
his  faith  was  all-important,  it  was  true  ;  but 
for  it  there  was  infinite  time,  and  with  it 
worked  the  tendency  and  drift  of  things. 
For  himself,  the  responsibility  was  to  choose 
sound  bricks.  And  he  chose,  not  with  an 
eye  to  the  intellect,  or  power  of  attraction, 



or  volume  of  force,  of  those  who  were 
chosen,  but  always  for  a  certain  quality  of 
simple  sincerity,  and,  as  it  seemed,  for  that 
alone.  Once  accepted,  the  ideal  put  before 
them  all  was  the  same  ;  not  mukti  but  renun- 
ciation, not  self-realisation,  but  self-abandon- 
ment. And  this  rather,  again,  on  behalf  of 
man,  than  as  an  offering  to  God.  It  was 
the  human  motive  that  he  asserted  to  his 
disciples.  May  one  of  them  never  forget 
a  certain  day  of  consecration,  in  the  chapel 
at  the  monastery,  when,  as  the  opening  step 
in  a  life-time,  so  to  speak,  he  first  taught  her 
to  perform  the  worship  of  Siva,  and  then 
made  the  whole  culminate  in  an  offering  of 
flowers  at  the  feet  of  the  Buddha  !  "  Go  thou,  " 
he  said,  as  if  addressing  in  one  person  each 
separate  soul  that  would  ever  come  to  him  for 
guidance,  "and  follow  Him,  who  was  born 
and  gave  His  life  for  others  FIVE  HUNDRED 
TIMES,  before  He  attained  the  vision  of  the 
Budddha ! " 




The  story  of  the  glimpses  which  I  caught 
of  this  part  of  the  Swami's  life  would  be 
singularly  incomplete,  if  it  contained  no  men- 
tion of  his  worship  of  the  Mother.  Spiritually 
speaking,  I  have  always  felt  that  there  were 
two  elements  in  his  consciousness.  Undoubted- 
ly he  was  born  a  Brahmajnani,  as  Ramakrish- 
na  Paramahamsa  so  frequently  insisted. 
When  he  was  only  eight  years  old,  sitting  at 
his  play,  he  had  developed  the  power  of 
entering  Samadhi.  The  religious  ideas  to- 
wards which  he  naturally  gravitated,  were 
highly  abstract  and  philosophical,  the  very 
reverse  of  those  which  are  commonly  refer- 
red to  as  'idolatrous.'  In  his  youth,  and  pre- 
sumably when  he  had  already  been  some 
time  under  the  influence  of  Sri  Ramakrishna, 



he  became  a  formal  member  of  the  Sadharan 
Brahmo  Samaj.  In  England  and  America 
he  was  never  known  to  preach  anything 
that  depended  on  a  special  form.  The  reali- 
sation of  Brahman  was  his  only  imperative, 
the  Advaita  philosophy  his  only  system  of 
doctrine,  the  Vedas  and  Upanishads  his  sole 
scriptural  authority. 

And  yet,  sid  a  by  side  with  this,  it  is  also  true 
that  in  India  the  word  "Mother"  was  forever 
on  his  lips.  He  spoke  of  Her,  as  we  of  one 
deeply  familiar  in  the  household  life.  He 
was  constantly  preoccupied  with  Her.  Like 
other  children,  he  was  not  always  good. 
Sometimes  he  would  be  naughty  and  rebel- 
lious. But  always  to  Her.  Never  did  he 
attribute  to  any  other,  the  good  or  evil  that 
befell.  On  a  certain  solemn  occasion,  he 
entrusted  to  a  disciple  a  prayer  to  Her  that 
in  his  own  life  had  acted  as  a  veritable 
charm.  "And  mind!"  he  added  suddenly, 
turning  with  what  was  almost  fierceness  up- 



on  the  receiver,  "make  Her  listen  to  you, 
when  you  say  it!  None  of 'that  cringing  to 
Mother  !  Remember  !"  Every  now  and  then 
he  would  break  out  with  some  new  fragment 
of  description.  The  right  hand  raised  in 
blessing,  the  left  holding  the  sword, — ''Her 
curse  is  blessing  ! "  would  be  the  sudden  ex- 
clamation that  ended  a  long  reverie.  Or 
becoming  half-lyric  in  the  intensity  of  his 
feeling,  "Deep  in  the  heart  of  hearts  of  Her 
own,  flashes  the  blood-red  knife  of  Kali. 
Worshippers  of  the  Mother  are  they  from 
their  birth,  in  Her  incarnation  of  the  sword!" 
From  him  was  gathered,  in  such  moments  as 
these,  almost  every  line  and  syllable  of  a 
certain  short  psalm,  called  the  'Voice  of 
the  Mother,'  which  I  wrote  and  pub- 
lished about  this  time.  "I  worship  the 
Terrible !"  he  was  continually  saying, — 
and  once,  "It  is  a  mistake  to  hold  that 
with  all  men  pleasure  is  the  motive. 
Quite  as  many  are  born  to  seek  after 



pain.    Let   us    worship    the    Terror  for    Its 
own  sake." 

He  had  a  whole-hearted  contempt  for 
what  he  regarded  as  squeamishness  or  mawk- 
ishness.  He  wasted  few  words  on  me,  when 
I  came  to  him  with  my  difficulties  about  ani- 
mal sacrifice  in  the  temple.  He  made  no  re- 
ference, as  he  might  have  done,  to  the  fact 
that  most  of  us,  loudly  as  we  may  attack 
this,  have  no  hesitation  in  offering  animal 
sacrifice  to  ourselves.  He  offered  no  argu- 
ment, as  he  easily  might  have  done,  regard- 
ing the  degradation  of  the  butcher  and  the 
slaughter-house,  under  the  modern  system. 
'Why  not  a  little  blood,  to  complete  the 
picture  ?"  was  his  only  direct  reply  to  my 
objections.  And  it  was  with  considerable 
difficulty  that  I  elicited  from  him,  and  from 
another  disciple  of  Sri  Ramakrishna,  sitting 
near,  the  actual  facts  of  the  more  austere 
side  of  Kali-worship,  that  side  which  has 
transcended  the  sacrifice  of  others.  He  told 



me  however  that  he  had  never  tolerated  the 
blood-offering  commonly  made  to  the  "de- 
mons who  attend  on  Kali."  This  was  simple 
devil-worship,  and  he  had  no  place  for  it. 
His  own  effort  being  constantly  to  banish 
fear  and  weakness  from  his  own  conscious- 
ness and  to  learn  to  recognise  THE  MOTHER 
as  instinctively  in  evil,  terror,  sorrow,  and 
annihilation,  as  in  that  which  makes  for 
sweetness  and  joy,  it  followed  that  the  one 
thing  he  could  not  away  with  was  any  sort  of 
watering-down  of  the  great  conception. 
"Fools !  "  he  exclaimed  once, — as  he  dwelt  in 
quiet  talk  on  "the  worship  of  the  Terrible", 
on  "becoming  one  with  the  Terrible" — "Fools! 
they  put  a  garland  of  flowers  round  Thy 
neck,  and  then  start  back  in  terror,  and  call 
Thee  'the  Merciful ' !  "  And  as  he  spoke, 
the  underlying  egoism  of  worship  that  is 
devoted  to  the  kind  God,  to  Providence,  the 
consoling  Divinity,  without  a  heart  for  God 
in  the  earthquake,  or  God  in  the  volcano, 



overwhelmed  the  listener.  One  saw  that 
such  worship  was  at  bottom,  as  the  Hindu 
calls  it,  merely  'shop-keeping,'  and  one  real- 
ised the  infinitely  greater  boldness  and  truth 
of  the  teaching  that  God  manifests  through 
evil  as  well  as  through  good.  One  saw  that 
the  true  attitude  for  the  mind  and  will  that 
are  not  to  be  baffled  by  the  personal  self, 
was  in  fact  the  determination,  in  the  stern 
words  of  the  Swami  Vivekananda,  'to  seek 
death  not  life,  to  hurl  oneself  upon  the 
sword's  point,  to  become  one  with  the  Ter- 
rible for  evermore  !' 

It  would  have  been  altogether  inconsis- 
tent with  the  Swami's  idea  of  freedom,  to 
have  sought  to  impose  his  own  conceptions 
on  a  disciple.  But  everything  in  my  past  life 
as  an  educationist  had  contributed  to  impress 
on  me  now  the  necessity  of  taking  on  the 
Indian  consciousness,  and  the  personal  per- 
plexity associated  with  the  memory  of  the  pil- 
grimage to  Amarnath  was  a  witness  not  to 



be  forgotten  to  the  strong  place  which  Indian 
systems  of  worship  held  in  that  conscious- 
ness. I  set  myself  therefore  to  enter  into 
Kali  worship,  as  one  would  set  oneself  to 
learn  a  new  language,  or  take  birth  deli- 
berately, perhaps,  in  a  new  race.  To  this 
fact  I  owe  it  that  I  was  able  to  understand 
as  much  as  I  did  of  our  Master's  life  and 
thought.  Step  by  step,  glimpse  after 
glimpse,  I  began  to  comprehend  a  little.  And 
in  matters  religious,  he  was,  without  know- 
ing it,  a  born  educator.  He  never  checked 
a  struggling  thought.  Being  with  him  one 
day  when  an  image  of  Kali  was  brought  in, 
and  noticing  some  passing  expression,  I 
suddenly  said  "Perhaps,  Swamiji,  Kali  is 
the  Vision  of  Siva  !  Is  She  ?"  He  looked 
at  me  for  a  moment.  "Well !  Well !  Express 
it  in  your  own  way,"  he  said  gently,  "Ex- 
press it  in  your  own  way !" 

Another  day  he  was  going  with  me  to 
visit    the    old    Maharshi     Devendra    Nath 



Tagore,  in  the  seclusion  of  his  home  in 
Jorasanko,  and  before  we  started,  he  ques- 
tioned me  about  a  death-scene  at  which  I 
had  been  present  the  night  before.  I  told 
him  eagerly  of  the  sudden  realisation  that 
had  come  to  me,  that  religions  were  only 
languages,  and  we  must  speak  to  a  man  in 
his  own  language.  His  whole  face  lighted 
up  at  the  thought.  "Yes !"  he  exclaimed, 
'And  Ramakrishna  Paramahamsa  was  the 
only  man  who  taught  that !  He  was  the  only 
man  who  ever  had  the  courage  to  say  that 
we  must  speak  to  all  men  in  their  own 
language  !" 

Yet  there  came  a  day  when  he  found  it 
necessary  to  lay  down  with  unmistakeable 
clearness  his  own  position  in  the  matter  of 
Mother-worship.  I  was  about  to  lecture  at 
the  Kalighat,  and  he  came  to  instruct  me 
that  if  any  foreign  friends  should  wish  to  be 
present,  they  were  to  remove  their  shoes,  and 
sit  on  the  floor,  like  the  rest  of  the  audience. 

2  12 


In  that  Presence  no  exceptions  were  to  be 
made.  I  was  myself  to  be  responsible  for 

After  saying  all  this,  however,  he  linger- 
ed before  going,  and  then,  making  a  shy  re- 
ference to  Colonel  Hay's  poem  of  the 
'Guardian  Angels  ',  he  said,  "  That  is  preci- 
sely my  position  about  Brahman  and  the 
gods  !  I  believe  in  Brahman  and  the  gods, 
and  not  in  anything  else  !" 

He  was  evidently  afraid  that  my  intellect- 
ual difficulty  would  lie  where  his  own  must 
have  done,  in  the  incompatibility  of  the 
exaltation  of  one  definite  scheme  of  worship 
with  the  highest  Vedantic  theory  of  Brah- 
man. He  did  not  understand  that  to  us 
who  stood  about  him,  he  was  himself  the  re- 
conciliation of  these  opposites,  and  the  wit- 
ness to  the  truth  of  each.  Following  up  this 
train  of  thought,  therefore,  he  dropped  into 

*  In  no  temple  anywhere,  ought  there  to  be  any  exception.  No 
one  has  any  respect  for  a  man  who  cannot  stand  for  the  dignity  and 
sacredness  of  his  own  place  of  worship. — N. 



a  mood  of  half-soliloquy,  and  sat  for  a  while 
talking  disjointedly,  answering  questions, 
trying  to  make  himself  clear,  yet  always  half- 
absorbed  in  something  within,  as  if  held  by 
some  spell  he  could  not  break. 

"How  I  used  to  hate  Kali  I"  he  said, 
''And  all  Her  ways  !  That  was  the  ground  of 
my  six  years'  fight, — that  I  would  not  accept 
Her.  But  I  had  to  accept  Her  at  last  ? 
Ramakrishna  Paramahamsa  dedicated  me  ta 
Her,  and  now  I  believe  that  She  guides  me 
in  every  little  thing  I  do,  and  does  with 

me  what  She  will ! Yet  I  fought  so  long  ! 

I   loved  him,   you   see,    and  that  was  what 

held  me.     I  saw  his   marvellous   purity I 

felt  his  wonderful  love His  greatness  had 

not  dawned  on  me  then.  All  that  came 
afterwards,  when  I  had  given  in.  At  that 
time  I  thought  him  a  brain-sick  baby,  always 
seeing  visions  and  the  rest.  I  hated  it.  And 
then  I  too  had  to  accept  Her  !  " 

"No,  the  thing  that  made  me  do  it  is  a 



secret  that  will  die  with  me.  I  had  great 
misfortunes  at  that  time It  was  an  oppor- 
tunity  She  made  a  slave  of  me.  Those 

were  the  very  words —  'a  slave  of  you.'  And 
Ramakrishna  Paramahamsa  made  me  over 
to  Her... Strange  !  He  lived  only  two  years 
after  doing  that,  and  most  of  the  time  he  was 
suffering.  Not  more  than  six  months  did  he 
keep  his  own  health  and  brightness. 

"Guru  Nanak  was  like  that,  you  know, 
looking  for  the  one  disciple  to  whom  he 
would  give  his  power.  And  he  passed  over 
all  his  own  family, — his  children  were  as 
nothing  to  him, — till  he  came  upon  the  boy 
to  whom  he  gave  it,  and  then  he  could  die. 

"The  future,  you  say,  will  call  Rama- 
krishna Paramahamsa  an  Incarnation  of  Kali  ? 
Yes,  I  think  there's  no  doubt  that  She  work- 
ed up  the  body  of  Ramakrishna  for  Her  own 

'*  You  see,  I  cannot  but  believe  that  there  is 
somewhere  a  great  Power  That  thinks  of 



Herself  as  feminine,  and  called  Kali,  and 

Mother. And  I  believe  in  Brahman  too 

...But  is  it  not  always  like  that  ?  Is  it  not  the 
multitude  of  cells  in  the  body  that  make  up 
the  personality,  the  many  brain-centres,  not 
the  one,  that  produce  consciousness?... Unity 
in  complexity  !  Just  so  !  And  why  should  it 
be  different  with  Brahman  ?  It  is  Brahman. 
It  is  the  One.  And  yet — and  yet — it  is  the 
gods  too !" 

Similarly,  he  had  returned  from  a  pil- 
grimage in  Kashmir  saying  "  These  gods  are 
not  merely  symbols!  They  are  the  forms 
that  the  bhaktas  have  seen  !  "  And  it  is  told 
of  Sri  Ramakrishna  that  he  would  sometimes 
speak,  coming  out  of  samadhi,  of  the  past 
experience  of  that  soul  that  dwelt  within  him, 
— "He  who  came  as  Rama,  as  Krishna,  as 
Jesus  dwells  here" — and  then  would  add 
playfully,  turning  to  his  chief  disciple,  "But 
not  in  your  Vedanta  sense,  Noren ! ' 

Thus  we  are  admitted  to  a  glimpse  of  the 



struggle  that  goes  on  in  great  souls,  for  the 
correlation  and  mutual  adjustment  of  the 
different  realisations  of  different  times.  On 
the  one  side  the  Mother,  on  the  other  side 
Brahman.  We  are  reminded  of  the  Swami's 
own  words,  heard  long  ago,  "  The  impersonal 
God,  seen  through  the  mists  of  sense,  is  per- 
sonal." In  truth  it  might  well  be  that  the 
two  ideas  could  not  be  reconciled.  Both 
conceptions  could  not  be  equally  true  at  the 
same  time.  It  is  clear  enough  that  in  the 
end,  as  a  subjective  realisation,  either  the 
Mother  must  become  Brahman,  or  Brahman 
the  Mother.  One  of  the  two  must  melt  into 
the  other,  the  question  of  which,  in  any  parti- 
cular case,  depending  on  the  destiny  and  the 
past  of  the  worshipping  soul. 

For  my  own  part,  the  conversation  I  have 
related  marked  an  epoch.  Ever  since  it 
took  place,  I  have  thought  I  saw  in  my 
Master's  attitude  a  certain  element  of  one  who 
carried  for  another  a  trust  confided  to  him. 



He  would  always,  when  asked  to  explain  the 
image  of  Kali,  speak  of  it  as  the  book  of  ex- 
perience, in  which  the  soul  turns  page  after 
page,  only  to  find  that  there  is  nothing  in  it, 
after  all.  And  this,  to  my  own  mind,  is  the 
final  explanation.  Kali  the  Mother  is  to  be 
the  worship  of  the  Indian  future.  In  Her 
name  will  her  sons  find  it  possible  to  sound 
many  experiences  to  their  depths.  And  yet, 
in  the  end,  their  hearts  will  return  to  the  an- 
cient wisdom,  and  each  man  will  know,  when 
his  hour  comes,  that  all  his  life  was  but  as  a 

Who  does  not  remember  the  Veda-like 
words  of  the  Gita  ? — "  Not,  verily,  by  avoid- 
ing action,  can  a  man  rise  to  this  inaction  !  " 
May  we  not,  similarly,  know  for  a  certainty 
that  not  without  going  through  this  experien- 
ce can  we  reach  the  realisation  at  the  end  ? 
Through  the  Mother  to  Brahman,  through 
new  life  and  knowledge,  and  many  changes, 
through  the  struggles,  the  victories,  and  the 



defeats  of  the  immediate  future,  to  that  safe 
haven  of  the  soul  where  all  is  One,  and  all  is 
peace  ?  As  I  look  more  and  more  closely 
into  the  life  of  that  great  Teacher  whom  I 
have  followed,  I  see  each  day  with  growing- 
clearness,  how  he  himself  was  turning  the 
pages  of  the  book  of  experience,  and  that  it 
was  only  when  he  had  come  to  the  last  word 
that  he  could  lie  back  like  a  weary  child,  in 
the  arms  of  his  Mother,  to  be  wrapped  away 
at  last  into  the  Supreme  Revelation,  know 
ing  that  'all  this  was  but  a  dream  ! ' 




On  the  20th  of  June  1899,  I  left  Calcutta, 
by  the  same  steamer  as  the  Swami,  and  his 
gurubhai  Turiyananda,  for  London,  which 
we  reached  on  the  morning  of  July  3ist.  A 
few  weeks  later  he  left  England  for  America, 
where  I  met  him  once  more,  late  in  Septem- 
ber. After  the  five  or  six  weeks  which  I 
spent  there,  as  a  guest  in  the  same  house  as 
he,  and  a  fortnight  in  Brittany  in  the  follow- 
ing year,  1900,  I  never  again  enjoyed  any 
long  unbroken  opportunity  of  being  with 
him.  Towards  the  end  of  1900  he  returned 
to  India,  but  I  remained  in  the  West  until 
the  beginning  of  1902.  And  when  I  then 
reached  India,  it  was  only  as  if  to  be  present 
at  the  closing  scene,  to  receive  the  last  bene- 
diction. To  this  voyage  of  six  weeks  I  look 



back  as  the  greatest  occasion  of  my  life.  I 
missed  no  opportunity  of  the  Swami's  society 
that  presented  itself,  and  accepted  practically 
no  other,  filling  up  the  time  with  quiet  writ- 
ing and  needlework  ;  thus  I  received  one  long 
continuous  impression  of  his  mind  and  per- 
sonality, for  which  I  can  never  be  sufficiently 

From  the  beginning  of  the  voyage  to  the 
end,  the  flow  of  thought  and  story  went  on. 
One  never  knew  what  moment  would  see  the 
flash  of  intuition,  and  hear  the  ringing  utter- 
ance of  some  fresh  truth.  It  was  while  we 
sat  chatting  in  the  River  on  the  first  after- 
noon, that  he  suddenly  exclaimed,  "  Yes  !  the 
older  I  grow,  the  more  everything  seems  to 
me  to  lie  in  manliness.  This  is  my  new 
gospel.  Do  even  evil  like  a  man  !  Be  wick- 
ed, if  you  must,  on  a  great  scale  !  "  And  these 
words  link  themselves  in  my  memory  with 
those  of  another  day,  when  I  had  been  remind- 
ing him  of  the  rareness  of  criminality  in  India. 



And  he  turned  on  me,  full  of  sorrowful  pro- 
test. "  Would  God  it  were  otherwise  in  my 
land  ! "  he  said,  "  for  this  is  verily  the  virtu- 
ousness  of  death ! '  Stories  of  the  Siva- 
Ratri,  or  Dark  Night  of  Siva,  of  Prithi  Rai, 
of  the  judgment  seat  of  Vikramaditya,  of 
Buddha  and  Yasodhara,  and  a  thousand  more, 
were  constantly  coming  up.  And  a  notice- 
able point  was,  that  one  never  heard  the  same 
thing  twice.  There  was  the  perpetual  study 
of  caste  ;  the  constant  examination  and  re- 
statement of  ideas  ;  the  talk  of  work,  past 
present,  and  future  ;  and  above  all  the  vindi 
cation  of  Humanity,  never  abandoned,  never 
weakened,  always  rising  to  new  heights  of 
defence  of  the  undefended,  of  chivalry  for  the 
weak.  Our  Master  has  come  and  he  has 
gone,  and  in  the  priceless  memory  he  has  left 
with  us  who  knew  him,  there  is  no  other 
thing  so  great,  as  this  his  love  of  man. 

I   cannot  forget  his  indignation  when  he 
heard  some  European  reference  to  cannibal- 



ism,  as  if  it  were  a  normal  part  of  life  in  some 
societies.  "  That  is  not  true  !"  he  said,  when 
he  had  heard  to  the' end.  "  No  nation  ever 
ate  human  flesh,  save  as  a  religious  sacrifice, 
or  in  war,  out  of  revenge.  Don't  you  see  ? 
that's  not  the  way  of  gregarious  animals  \  It 
would  cut  at  the  roots  of  social  life  !  "  Kro- 
potkin's  great  work  on  "Mutual  Aid  "had 
not  yet  appeared,  when  these  words  were 
said.  It  was  his  love  of  Humanity,  and  his 
instinct  on  behalf  of  each  in  his  own  place, 
that  gave  to  the  Swami  so  clear  an  insight. 

Again  he  talked  of  the  religious  impulse, 
"Sex-love  and  creation !"  he  cried,  "These 
are  at  the  root  of  most  religion.  And  these 
in  India  are  called  Vaishnavism,  and  in  the 
West  Christianity.  How  few  have  dared  to 
worship  Death,  or  Kali !  Let  us  worship 
Death !  Let  us  embrace  the  Terrible,  be- 
cause it  is  terrible  ;  not  asking  that  it  be  toned 
down.  Let  us  take  misery,  for  misery's  own 
sake ! " 



As  we  came  to  the  place  where  the  river- 
water  met  the  ocean,  we  could  see  why  the 
sea  had  been  called  '  Kali  Pani '  or  black 
water,  while  the  river  was  '  Sadha  Pani '  or 
white,  and  the  Swami  explained  how  it  was 
the  great  reverence  of  Hindus  for  the  ocean, 
forbidding  them  to  defile  it  by  crossing  it, 
that  had  made  such  journeys  equal  to  out- 
casting  for  so  many  centuries.  Then,  as  the 
ship  crossed  the  line,  touching  the  sea  for  the 
first  time,  he  chanted  "  Namo  Shivaya! 
Namo  Shivaya !  Passing  from  the  Land  of 
Renunciation  to  the  Land  of  the  Enjoyment 
of  the  World !  " 

He  was  talking  again,  of  the  fact  that  he 
who  would  be  great  must  suffer,  and  how 
some  were  fated  to  see  every  joy  of  the 
senses  turn  to  ashes,  and  he  said  "  The  whole 
of  life  is  only  a  swan-song  !  Never  forget 
those  lines — 

'The  lion,  when  stricken  to  the  heart,  gives 
out  his  mightiest  roar. 



When  smitten  on  the  head,  the  cobra  lifts 

its  hood. 

And  the  majesty  of  the  soul   comes  forth, 
only  when  a  man  is  wounded  to  his 

depths.'  " 

Now  he  would  answer  a  question,  with 
infinite  patience,  and  again  he  would  play 
with  historic  and  literary  speculations. 
Again  and  again  his  mind  would  return  to 
the  Buddhist  period,  as  the  crux  of  a  real 
understanding  of  Indian  history. 

"  The  three  cycles  of  Buddhism,''  he  said, 
one  day,  "were  five  hundred  years  of  the 
Law,  five  hundred  years  of  Images,  and  five 
hundred  years  of  Tantras.  You  must  not 
imagine  that  there  was  ever  a  religion  in 
India  called  Buddhism,  with  temples  and 
priests  of  its  own  order  !  Nothing  of  the  sort. 
It  was  always  within  Hinduism.  Only  at 
one  time  the  influence  of  Buddha  was  para- 
mount, and  this  made  the  nation  monastic." 
He  had  been  discussing  the  question  of  the 



adoption  into  Buddhism,  as  its  saints,  of  the 
Nags  of  Kashmir  (the  great  serpents  who 
were  supposed  to  dwell  within  the  springs), 
after  the  terrible  winter  that  followed  their 
deposition  as  deities. 

And  he  drifted  on  to  talk  about  the  Soma 
plant,  picturing  how,  for  a  thousand  years 
after  the  Himalayan  period,  it  was  annually 
received  in  Indian  villages  as  if  it  were  a 
king,  the  people  going  out  to  meet  it  on  a 
given  day,  and  bringing  it  in  rejoicing.  And 
now  it  cannot  even  be  identified  ! 

Again  it  was  Sher  Shah  of  whom  he 
talked, — Sher  Shah,  making  a  thirty  years' 
interim  in  the  reign  of  Humayoon.  I  re- 
member the  accession  of  delight  with  which 
he  began  the  subject,  saying  ''He  was  once 
a  boy,  running  about  the  streets  of  Bengal !" 
He  ended  by  showing  how  the  Grand  Trunk 
Road  from  Chittagong  to  Peshawar,  the 
Postal  system,  and  the  Government  Bank, 
were  all  his  work.  And  then  there  were 



a  few  minutes  of  silence,  and  he  began 
reciting  lines  from  the  Guru  Gita. 
4 'To  that  Guru  who  is  Brahman,  to  that 
Guru  who  is  Vishnu,  to  that  Guru  who  is 
Siva,  to  that  Guru  who  is  Para  Brahman, 
I  bow  down  to  that  Guru.  From  the 
Guru  is  the  beginning,  yet  is  he  without 
beginning  :  to  that  Guru  who  is  greatest 
among  the  gods,  to  that  Guru  who  is  Para 
Brahman,  I  bow  down  to  that  Guru."  He 
was  pursuing  some  train  of  thought  within, 
to  which  these  snatches  of  prayer  bore  some 
relation.  A  moment  or  two  went  by,  and 
suddenly  he  broke  his  reverie,  saying  "Yes, 
Buddha  was  right !  It  must  be  cause  and  effect 
in  Karma.  This  individuality  cannot  but  be 
an  illusion  !"  It  was  the  next  morning,  and 
I  had  supposed  him  to  be  dozing  in  his 
chair,  when  he  suddenly  exclaimed,  "Why 
the  memory  of  one  life  is  like  millions  of 
years  of  confinement,  and  they  want 
to  wake  up  the  memory  of  many  lives ! 



Sufficient  unto  the  day  is  the  evil 
thereof !" 

'I  have  just  been  talking  to  Turiyananda 
about  conservative  and  liberal  ideas,"  he 
said,  as  he  met  me  on  deck  before  breakfast 
one  morning,  and  straightway  plunged  into 
the  subject. 

"  The  conservative's  whole  ideal  is  sub- 
mission. Your  ideal  is  struggle.  Conse- 
quently it  is  we  who  enjoy  life,  and  never 
you  !  You  are  always  striving  to  change 
yours  to  something  better,  and  before  a  mil- 
lionth part  of  the  change  is  carried  out,  you 
die.  The  Western  ideal  is  to  be  doing  :  the 
Eastern  to  be  suffering.  The  perfect  life  would 
be  a  wonderful  harmony  between  doing  and 
suffering.  But  that  can  never  ibe. 

"In  our  system  it  is  accepted  that  a  man 
cannot  have  all  he  desires.  Life  is  subjected 
to  many  restraints.  This  is  ugly,  yet  it  brings 
out  points  of  light  and  strength.  Our  libe- 
rals see  only  the  ugliness,  and  try  to  throw 



It  off.  But  they  substitute  something  quite 
as  bad,  and  the  new  custom  takes  as  long  as 
the  old,  for  us  to  work  to  its  centres  of 

"Will  is  not  strengthened  by  change.  It 
is  weakened  and  enslaved  by  it.  But  we 
must  be  always  absorbing.  Will  grows 
stronger  by  absorption.  And  consciously  or 
unconsciously,  will  is  the  one  thing  in  the 
world  that  we  admire.  Suttee  is  great,  in  the 
eyes  of  the  whole  world,  because  of  the  will 
that  it  manifests. 

"It  is  selfishness  that  we  must  seek  to 
eliminate !  I  find  that  whenever  I  have  made 
a  mistake  in  my  life,  it  has  always  been  be- 
cause self  entered  into  the  calculation. 
Where  self  has  not  been  involved,  my  judg- 
ment has  gone  straight  to  the  mark. 

"  Without  this  self,  there  would  have 
been  no  religious  systems.  If  man  had  not 
wanted  anything  for  himself,  do  you  think  he 
would  have  had  all  this  praying  and  worship  ? 



Why!  he  would  never  have  thought  of  Goct 
at  all,  except  perhaps  for  a  little  praise  now  and 
then,  at  the  sight  of  a  beautiful  landscape  or 
something.  And  that  is  the  only  attitude 
there  ought  to  be.  All  praise  and  thanks.  If 
only  we  were  rid  of  self!  " 

"You  are  quite  wrong,"  he  said  again, 
"  when  you  think  that  righting  is  a  sign  of 
growth.  It  is  not  so  at  all.  Absorption  is 
the  sign.  Hinduism  is  the  very  genius  of 
absorption.  We  have  never  cared  for  fight- 
ing. Of  course  we  could  strike  a  blow  now 
and  then,  in  defence  of  our  homes !  That 
was  right.  But  we  never  cared  for  fighting 
for  its  own  sake.  Every  one  had  to  learn 
that.  So  let  these  races  of  new-comers  whirl 
on  !  They'll  all  be  taken  into  Hinduism  in 
the  end  ! " 

He  never  thought  of  his  Mother-Church 
or  his  Motherland  except  as  dominant ;  and 
again  and  again,  when  thinking  of  definite 
schemes,  he  would  ejaculate,  in  his  whimsical 



way,  "Yes,  it  is  true!  If  European  men  or 
women  are  to  work  in  India,  it  must  be  under 
the  black  man  !  " 

He  brooded  much  over  the  national 
achievement.  "  Well  !  well !  "  he  would  say, 
"  We  have  done  one  thing  that  no  other  peo- 
ple ever  did.  We  have  converted  a  whole  na- 
tion to  one  or  two  ideas.  Non-beef-eating  for 
instance.  Not  one  Hindu  eats  beef.  No, 
no!" — turning  sharply  round — "it's  not  at  all 
like  European  non-cat-eating;  for  beef  was 
formerly  the  food  of  the  country  !  " 

We  were  discussing  a  certain  opponent  of 
his  own,  and  I  suggested  that  he  was  guilty 
of  putting  his  sect  above  his  country.      "That 
is  Asiatic,"  retorted  the  Swami  warmly,  "and 
it  is  grand !     Only  he  had  not  the  brain  to 
conceive,    nor  the  patience  to  wait !"'    And 
then  he  went  off  into  a  musing  on  Kali. 
"  I  am  not  one  of  those,"  he  chanted, 
"  Who  put    the    garland    of  skulls  round 

Thy  neck, 



"  And  then  look  back  in  terror 
"  And  call  Thee  '  The  Merciful ' ! 
"The  heart  must  become  a  burial  ground, 
"  Pride,  selfishness,  and  desire  all  broken 

into  dust, 
"  Then  and  then  alone  will  the  Mother 

dance  there!" 

"  I  love  terror  for  its  own  sake,"  he  went 
on,  "despair  for  its  own  sake,  misery  for  its 
own  sake.  Fight  always.  Fight  and  fight 
on,  though  always  in  defeat.  That's  the 
ideal.  That's  the  ideal." 

"  The  totality  of  all  souls,  not  the  human 
alone,"  he  said  once,  "is  the  Personal  God. 
The  will  of  the  Totality  nothing  can  resist. 
It  is  what  we  know  as  Law.  And  this 
is  what  we  mean  by  Siva  and  Kali,  and 
so  on." 

Some  of  the  most  beautiful  scenes  in  the 
world  have  been  made  for  me  more  beautiful, 
by  listening,  in  their  midst,  to  these  long 


It  was  dark  when  we  approached  Sicily, 
and  against  the  sunset  sky,  Etna  was  in 
slight  eruption.  As  we  entered  the  straits  of 
Messina,  the  moon  rose,  and  I  walked  up  and 
down  the  deck  beside  the  Swami,  while  he 
dwelt  on  the  fact  that  beauty  is  not  external, 
but  already  in  the  mind.  On  one  side  frown- 
ed the  dark  crags  of  the  Italian  coast,  on 
the  other,  the  island  was  touched  with  silver 
light.  "  Messina  must  thank  me  \  "  he  said, 
"  It  is  I  who  give  her  all  her  beauty !" 

Then  he  talked  of  the  fever  of  longing  to 
reach  God,  that  had  wakened  in  him  as  a 
boy,  and  of  how  he  would  begin  repeating  a 
text  before  sunrise,  and  remain  all  day  re- 
peating it,  without  stirring.  He  was  trying 
here  to  explain  the  idea  of  tapasya,  in  answer 
to  my  questions,  and  he  spoke  of  the  old  way 
of  lighting  four  fires,  and  sitting  in  the 
midst,  hour  after  hour,  with  the  sun  over- 
head, reining  in  the  mind.  "Worship  the 
terrible!"  he  ended,  "Worship  Death  !  All 



else  is  vain.  All  struggle  is  vain.  That  is 
the  last  lesson.  Yet  this  is  not  the  coward's- 
love  of  death,  not  the  love  |of  the  weak,  or 
the  suicide.  It  is  the  welcome  of  the  strong 
man,  who  has  sounded  everything  to  its 
depths,  and  knows  that  there  is  no  alter- 



The  Swami  talked  with  me  one  day,  of 
the  saints  he  had  seen.  The  subject  began 
perhaps  with  that  Nag  Mahashoy,  who  had 
paid  him  a  visit  in  Calcutta,  only  a  few  weeks 
before,  and  whose  death  must  have  occurred 
a  day  or  two  previous  to  our  leaving.  The 
news  reached  him,  while  the  ship  was  still  in 
the  River.  Nag  Mahashoy,  he  said  repeated- 
ly, was  "one  of  the  greatest  of  the  works  of 
Ramakrishna  Paramahamsa."  He  described 
his  impassioned  idea  of  the  necessity  of 
bhakti,  and  how  he  would  refuse  to  give  food, 
to  the  body  of  one  so  worthless  and  unfortu- 
nate as  he  himself  was,  in  never  yet  having 
loved  God.  He  told  me,  too,  how  on  one 
occasion  Nag  Mahashoy  had  cut  down  the 
ridge-pole  of  his  cottage,  in  order  to  make 
the  fire  to  cook  food  for  a  guest. 



The  talk  passed  perhaps,  to  the  story  of 
that  youth  who  was  touched  by  Sri  Rama- 
krishna's  hand,  and  who  never  afterwards 
spoke,  save  to  say  "My  Beloved  !  My  Be- 
loved !"  He  lived  ten  years,  without  other 
speech  than  this. 

There  were  many  stories  current  amongst 
the  monks,  of  persons  who  had  come  to  Dukhi- 
neswar  during  the  life-time  of  their  Master, 
and  being  touched  by  his  hand,  went  imme- 
diately into  Samadki.  In  many  cases,  nothing 
more  was  known  of  the  visitants  than  this. 
This  was  notably  true  of  a  certain  woman, 
who  had  driven  to  the  Temple,  and  of  whom 
Sri  Ramakrishna  had  said  at  once  that  she 
was  "a  fragment  of  the  Madonnahood  of  the 
worlds.'  He  had  offered  salutation  to  this 
guest,  in  the  name  of  the  Mother,  throwing 
flowers  on  her  feet,  and  burning  incense 
before  her,  and  she,  as  was  not  perhaps 
surprising,  had  passed  immediately  into  the 
deepest  Samadki.  Fr^m  this,  however,  to 



everyone's  surprise,  it  had  proved  most 
difficult  to  recall  her.  It  was  two  or  three 
hours  before  she  awoke  from  her  ecstasy, 
and  when  this  happened  her  whole  ap- 
pearance it  is  said,  was  as  that  of  one  who 
had  been  intoxicated.  Much  relieved  that  all 
was  ending  thus  well,  however, — for  it  had 
been  feared  that  her  Samadhi  might  last 
much  longer,  and  her  family,  wherever  they 
were,  feel  justly  disturbed — all  lent  their  aid 
to  the  departure  of  the  stranger  from  the 
temple,  and  none  had  the  forethought  to. 
make  a  single  enquiry  as  to  her  name  or 
abode.  She  never  came  again.  Thus  her 
memory  became  like  some  beautiful  legend, 
treasured  in  the  Order  as  witness  to  the 
worship  of  Sri  Ramakrishna  for  gracious  and 
noble  wifehood  and  motherhood.  Had  he 
not  said  of  this  woman,  "a  fragment  of  the 
eternal  Madonnahood  "  ? 

In  my  own  ignorance  of  religious  matters 
in  general,  my  mind  felt  out  much  after  these 



stray  children  of  the  central  impulse,  shining 
like  distant  stars  in  their  own  orbits,  as  it 
were,  and  never  returning  upon  us  or  ours.  I 
wanted  to  know  whether,  even  in  lives  so  fair 
as  theirs,  it  might  perhaps  be  possible  to 
forget  the  great  experience  of  a  day  long 
years  ago,  so  that  the  memory  of  the  great 
Teacher  and  his  touch  would  become  to  them 
also  a  far-away  incident,  a  story  heard  in  a 
dream,  even  as  their  visits  had  become  to 
those  who  saw  them  pass.  I  wanted  in  fact 
to  be  able  to  measure  the  relative  values  of 
many  things,  and  I  left  out  of  sight  at  that 
time  altogether, — having  not  yet  begun  to 
consider  it — the  preparedness  which  the 
national  idea  has  produced  in  every  Hindu 
for  such  experiences.  But  the  Swami  could 
not  understand  my  mental  twilight.  "Was 
it  a  joke,"  he  said,  "that  Ramakrishna  Para- 
mahamsa  should  touch  a  life  ?  OF  COURSE  he 
made  new  men  and  new  women  of  those  who 
came  to  him,  even  in  these  fleeting  contacts!" 



And  then  he  would  tell  story  after  story  of 
different  disciples.  How  one  came,  and  came 
again,  and  struggled  to  understand.  And  sud- 
denly to  this  one,  he  turned  and  said  "Go  away 
now,  and  make  some  money  !  Then 
come  again !"  And  that  man  to-day  was 
succeeding  in  the  world,  but  the  old  love  was 
proving  itself  ever  alight.  There  was  no 
mention  of  the  defects  of  this,  or  any  other  of 
whom  he  told.  As  one  listened,  it  was  the 
courage  and  nobility  of  each  man's  struggle 
that  one  felt.  Why  should  every  man 
force  himself  to  be  a  monk  ?  Nay,  how  could 
every  man,  till  his  other  work  was  done  ? 
But  there  would  be  no  mistake  in  the  end. 
All  these  would  be  his  at  last. 

Similarly,  of  the  saints.  His  whole  soul 
went  to  the  interpretation  of  each,  as  he  rose 
before  him,  and  it  would  have  been  im- 
possible at  that  moment  for  the  listener  to 
think  of  any  other  as  higher.  Of  Pavhari 
Baba  he  had  so  striven  to  tell  us  everything, 



that  it  would  have  seemed  scarcely  delicate 
to  press  vague  questions  upon  him  further. 
All  who  had  been  with  him  at  the  time  of  the 
saint's  death  knew  that  he  held  him  second 
only  to  Sri  Ramakrishna,  knew  that  there 
was  none  whose  love  to  himself  he  had  more 

Now  he  set  himself  to  tell  stories  for  an 
hour,  of  one  or  two  others  whom  he  had 
met.  TRAILINGA  SWAMI  he  had  seen  |when 
very,  very  old,  more  than  a  hundred,  appa- 
rently. He  was  always  silent.  He  would 
lie  in  a  Siva-temple  in  Benares,  with  his  feet 
on  the  image,  A  madcap,  seemingly.  He  al- 
lowed people,  however,  to  write  him  ques- 
tions, and  sometimes,  if  he  fancied  one, 
would  write  an  answer  in  Sanskrit.  This 
man  was  lately  dead. 

RAGHUNATH  DASS  had  been  dead  two 
months,  when  the  Swami  reached  his  ashra- 
ma.  He  had  been  a  soldier  originally  in  the 
British  service,  and  as  an  outpost  sentinel  was 



faithful  and  good,  and  much  beloved  by  his 
officers.  One  night,  however,  he  heard  a 
Ram-Ram  party.  He  tried  to  do  his  duty, 
but  "  Java  Bolo  Ram  Chunder  ki  jai ! " 
maddened  him.  He  threw  away  his  arms  and 
uniform,  and  joined  the  worship. 

This  went  on  for  some  time,  till  reports 
came  to  the  Colonel.  He  sent  for  Raghu- 
nath  Dass,  and  asked  him  whether  these 
were  true,  and  if  he  knew  the  penalty. 
Yes,  he  knew  it.  It  was  to  be  shot. 

"Well,"  said  the  Colonel,  "Go  away  this 
time,  and  I  shall  repeat  it  to  no  one.  This 
once  I  forgive  you.  But  if  the  same  thing 
happens  again,  you  must  suffer  the  penalty." 

That  night,  however,   the  sentinel  heard 
again  the  Ram-Ram  party.      He  did  his  best, 
but  it  was  irresistible.     At  last  he  threw  all 
to  the  winds,  and  joined  the  worshippers   till ; 

Meanwhile,  however,  the  Colonel's  trust 
in  Raghunath  Dass  had  been  so  great  that  he 



found  it  difficult  to  believe  anything  against 
him,  even  on  his  own  confession.  So  in  the 
course  of  the  night,  he  visited  the  outpost, 
to  see  for  himself.  Now  Raghunath  Dass  was 
was  in  his  place,  and  exchanged  the  word  with 
him  three  times.  Then,  being  reassured,  the 
Colonel  turned  in,  and  went  to  sleep. 

In  the  morning  appeared  Raghunath  Dass 
to  report  himself  and  surrender  his  arms. 
But  the  report  was  not  accepted,  for  the 
Colonel  told  him  what  he  had  himself  seen 
and  heard. 

Thunderstruck,  the  man  insisted  by  some 
means  on  retiring  from  the  service.  Rama 
it  was  who  had  done  this  for  His  servant. 
Henceforth,  in  very  truth,  he  would  serve  no 

"He  became  a  Vairagi,"  said  the  Swami, 
"on  the  banks  of  the  Saraswati.  People 
thought  him  ignorant,  but  I  knew  his  power. 
Daily  he  would  feed  thousands.  Then  would 
come  the  grain-seller,  after  a  while,  with  his 



bill.  'H'm !'  Raghunath  Dass  would  say,  *  A 
thousand  rupees  you  say  ?  Let  me  see.  It 
is  a  month  I  think  since  I  have  received  any- 
thing. This  will  come,  I  fancy,  to-morrow.' 
And  it  always  came." 

Some  one  asked  him  |if  the  story  of  the 
Ram- Ram  party  were  true. 

"What's  the  use  of  knowing  such 
things  ?  "  he  answered. 

"  I  do  not  ask  for  curiosity,"  urged  the 
questioner,  "but  only  to  know  if  it  is  possible 
for  such  things  to  happen  !" 

Nothing  is  impossible  with  the  Lord  !" 
answered  Raghunath  Dass.  .  ,  > .  ^ 

"I  saw  many  great  men,"  went  on  the 
Swami,  "in  Hrishikesh.  One  case  that  I 
remember  was  that  of  a  man  who  seemed  to 
be  mad.  He  was  coming  nude  down  the 
street,  with  boys  pursuing,  and  throwing 
stones  at  him.  The  whole  man  was  bubbling 
over  with  laughter,  while  blood  was  stream- 
ing down  his  face  and  neck.  I  took  him,  and 



bathed  the  wound,  putting  ashes  f  on  it,  to 
stop  the  bleeding.  And  all  the  time,  with 
peals  of  laughter,  he  told  me  of  the  fun  the 
boys  and  he  had  been  having,  throwing  the 
stones.  '  So  the  Father  plays,'  he  said." 

"  Many  of  these  men  hide,  in  order  to 
guard  themselves  against  intrusion.  People 
are  a  trouble  to  them.  One  had  human  bones 
strewn  about  his  cave,  and  gave  it  out  that  he 
lived  on  corpses.  Another  threw  stones.  And 
so  on "  .  .  .  . 

"  Sometimes  the  thing  comes  upon  them 
in  a  flash.  There  was  a  boy,  for  instance, 
who  used  to  come  to  read  the  Upanishads 
with  Abhedan-anda.  One  day  he  turned  and 
said  '  Sir,  is  all  this  really  true  ?' 

"  Oh  yes!"  said  Abhedananda,  "it 
may  be  difficult  to  realise,  but  it  is  cer- 
tainly true." 

"And  next  day,  that  boy  was  a  silent 
sannyasin,  nude,  on  his  way  to  Kedar  Nath  ! 

t  These  ashes  are  made  by  burning  a  piece  of  cotton  cloth. — K. 



"What  happened  to  him  ?  you  ask  He 
became  silent !" 

"  But  the  sannyasin  needs  no  longer  to 
worship,  or  to  go  on  pilgrimage,  or  perform 
austerities.  What,  then,  is  the  motive  of  all 
this  going  from  pilgrimage  to  pilgrimage, 
shrine  to  shrine,  and  austerity  to  austerity  ? 
He  is  acquiring  merit,  and  giving  it  to  the 
world  !" 

And  then,  perhaps,  came  the  story  of 
Shibi  Rana.  "Ah"  yes!"  exclaimed  the  teller, 
as  he  ended,  "these  are  the  stories  that  are 
deep  in  our  nation's  heart !  Never  forget 
that  the  sannyasin  takes  two  vows,  one  to 
realise  the  truth,  and  one  to  help  the  world, 
and  that  the  most  stringent  of  stringent 
requirements  is  that  he  should  renounce  any 
.thought  of  heaven !" 



Even  a  journey  round  the  world  be- 
comes a  pilgrimage,  if  one  makes  it  with  the 
Guru.  It  was  late  one  evening,  in  the  Red 
Sea,  when  I  brought  to  the  Swami  some 
perplexity,  of  a  personal  nature,  about  the 
right  method  of  helpfulness  to  others.  It  was 
rarely,  indeed,  that  he  would  answer  a 
question  of  this  sort,  without  first  turning  for 
authority  to  some  dictum  of  the  Shastras. 
And  how  grateful  does  one  become  later  for 
this  fact!  It  was  his  personal  opinion  that 
one  desired.  But  giving  this,  as  he  did,  in 
the  form  of  a  comment  on  some  text,  it  went 
much  deeper  into  the  mind,  and  became  the 
subject  of  much  longer  thought  and  consi- 
deration, than  if  he  had  answered  at  once,  in 
the  sense  required  by  the  impatient  ques- 



In  the  same  way,  when  I  had  asked  him 
what  becomes  of  those  who  failed  to  keep 
their  vows,  he  had  gone  all  the  way  round 
by  a  beautiful  Sanskrit  quotation,  to  answer 
me.  Even  now,  I  hear  the  ring  of  his 
wonderful  voice,  repeating  Arjuna's  question: 

h  ifH 

Gita  vi.  j/,  38. 

They  who  begin  with  Shraddha, 
and  afterwards  become  unsteady,  to  what 
end  do  those  come,  O  Krishna,  who  fail 
in  yogat  Do  they,  fallen  from  both 
estates,  perish,  —  blasted,  like  a  summer- 
cloud  before  the  wind  ? 

And  the  answer  of  Sri  Krishna,  fearless, 
triumphant,  — 



"Neither  here  nor  hereafter,  O  Son  of 
Pritha,  shall  such  meet  with  destruction. 
NEVER  shall  one  who  has  done  good,  come 
to  grief,  O  my  son !  " 

And  then  he  drifted  into  a  talk  that  I 
can  never  forget.  First  he  explained  how 
everything,  short  of  the  absolute  control  of 
mind,  word,  and  deed,  was  but  "the  sowing 
of  wild  oats."  Then  he  told  how  the  reli- 
gious who  failed  would  sometimes  be  born 
again  to  a  throne,  'there  to  sow  his  wild  oats/ 
in  gratifying  that  particular  desire  which  had 
led  to  his  downfall.  'A  memory  of  the  religious 
habit,'  he  said,  'often  haunts  the  throne/ 
For  one  of  the  signs  of  greatness  was  held  to 
be  the  persistence  of  a  faint  memory.  Akbar 
had  had  this  memory.  He  thought  of  him- 
self as  a  brahmacharin  who  had  failed  in  his 
Vows.  But  he  would  be  born  again,  in  more 
favourable  surroundings,  and  that  time  he 
would  succeed.  And  then  there  came  one  of 
those  personal  glimpses  which  occurred  so 



seldom  with  our  Master.  Carried  away  by  the 
talk  of  memory,  he  lifted  the  visor  for  a 
moment,  on  his  own  soul.  "And  whatever 
you  may  think,"  he  said,  turning  to  me 
suddenly,  and  addressing  me  by  name,  "I 
have  such  a  memory !  When  I  was  only  two 
years  old,  I  used  to  play  with  my  syce,  at 
being  a  vairagi,  clothed  in  ashes  and  kaupina, 
And  if  a  Sadku  came  to  beg,  they  would 
lock  me  in,  upstairs,  to  prevent  my  giving 
too  much  away.  I  felt  that  I  also  was  this, 
and  that  for  some  mischief  I  had  had  to  be 
sent  away  from  Siva.  No  doubt  my  family 
increased  this  feeling,  for  when  I  was 
naughty  they  would  say  "Dear,  dear !  so 
many  austerities,  yet  Siva  sent  us  this  demon 
after  all,  instead  of  a  good  soul !  Or  when  I 
was  very  rebellious  they  would  empty  a  can  of 
water  over  me,  saying  'Siva  !  Siva' !  And  then 
I  was  all  right,  always.  Even  now,  when  I 
feel  mischievous,  that  word  keeps  me  straight. 
'No  !'  I  say  to  myself,  'not  this  time  !' " 



On  the  present  occasion,  then,  he 
went  back,  in  similar  fashion,  to  the  Gita. 
"The  Gita  says,"  he  answered  me,  "that 
there  are  three  kinds  of  charity,  the  Tamasic, 
the  Rajasic,  and  the  Sattvic.  Tamasic  charity 
is  performed  on  an  impulse.  It  is  always 
making  mistakes.  The  doer  thinks  of  no- 
thing but  his  own  impulse  to  be  kind.  Raja- 
sic charity  is  what  a  man  does  for  his  own 
glory.  And  sattvic  charity  is  that  which  is 
given  to  the  right  person,  in  the  right  way, 
and  at  the  proper  time.  Your  own,"  he  said, 
referring  to  the  incident  that  had  brought 
about  my  question,  "was,  I  fear,  like  the 
tamasic  charity.  When  it  comes  to  the 
sattvic,  I  think  more  and  more  of  a  certain 
great  Western  woman,  in  whom  I  have  seen 
that  quiet  giving,  always  to  the  right  person 
in  the  right  way,  at  the  right  time,  and  never 
making  a  mistake.  For  my  own  part,  I  have 
been  learning  that  even  charity  can  go  too 



His  voice  sank  into  silence,  and  we  sat 
looking  out  over  the  starlit  sea.  Then  he 
took  up  the  thread  again.  "As  I  grow  older 
I  find  that  I  look  more  and  more  for  great- 
ness in  little  things.  I  want  to  know  what  a 
great  man  eats  and  wears,  and  how  he 
speaks  to  his  servants.  I  want  to  find  a  Sir 
Philip  Sidney  greatness  !  Few  men  would 
remember  the  thirst  of  others,  even  in  the 

moment  of  death. 

"But  anyone  will  be  great  in  a  great  posi- 
tion !  Even  the  coward  will  grow  brave  in 
the  glare  of  the  foot-lights.  The  world  looks 
on.  Whose  heart  will  not  throb  ?  Whose 
pulse  will  not  quicken,  till  he  can  do  his  best  ? 

"More  and  more  the  true  greatness  seems 
to  me  that  of  the  worm,  doing  its  duty  silent- 
ly, steadily,  from  moment  to  moment,  and 
hour  to  hour." 

How   many   points   on   the    map    have 
received  a  new  beauty  in  my  eyes,  from  the 
conversations  they  recall !  As  we  passed  up 



the  coast  of  Italy,  we  talked  of  the  Church. 
As  we  went  through  the  Straits  of  Bonifacio, 
and  sat  looking  at  the  south  coast  of  Corsica, 
he  spoke  in  a  hushed  voice  of  "this  land  of 
the  birth  of  the  War- Lord,"  and  wandered 
far  afield,  to  talk  of  the  strength  of  Robes- 
pierre, or  to  touch  on  Victor  Hugo's  con- 
tempt for  Napoleon  III,  with  his  "Et  tu 
Napoleon  !" 

As  I  came  on  deck,  on  the  morning  of 
our  passing  through  the  Straits  of  Gibraltar, 
he  met  me  with  the  words  "Have  you  seen 
them  ?  Have  you  seen  them  ?  Landing  there 
and  crying  'Din !  Din!  The  Faith !  The 
Faith  !'  "  And  for  half-an-hour  I  was  swept 
away  into  his  dramatisation  of  the  Moorish 
invasions  of  Spain. 

Or  again,  on  a  Sunday  evening,  he  would 
sit  and  talk  of  Buddha,  putting  new  life  into 
the  customary  historic  recital  of  bare  facts, 
and  interpreting  the  Great  Renunciation  as 
it  had  appeared  to  him  who  made  it 



But  his  talks  were  not  all  entertainingr 
nor  even  all  educational.  Every  now  and 
then  he  would  return,  with  consuming  eager- 
ness, to  the  great  purpose  of  his  life.  And 
when  he  did  this,  I  listened  with  an  anxious 
mind,  striving  to  treasure  up  each  word  that 
he  let  fall.  For  I  knew  that  here  I  was  but 
the  transmitter,  but  the  bridge,  between  him 
and  that  countless  host  of  his  own  people, 
who  would  yet  arise,  and  seek  to  make  good 
his  dreams. 

One  of  these  occasions  came  on  a  certain 
evening,  as  we  neared  Aden.  I  had  asked 
him,  in  the  morning,  to  tell  me,  in  broad  out- 
line, what  he  felt  to  be  the  points  of  differ- 
ence between  his  own  schemes  for  the  good 
of  India,  and  those  preached  by  others.  It 
was  impossible  to  draw  him  out  on  this  sub- 
ject. On  the  contrary,  he  expressed  appreci- 
ation of  certain  personal  characteristics  and 
lines  of  conduct,  adopted  by  some  of  the 
leaders  of  other  schools,  and  I  regarded  the 



question  as  dismissed.  Suddenly,  in  the  even- 
ing, he  returned  to  the  subject  of  his  own  accord. 
"I  disagree  with  all  those,"  he  said,  "who 
are  giving  their  superstitions  back  to  my 
people.  Like  the  Egyptologist's  interest  in 
Egypt,  it  is  easy  to  feel  an  interest  in  India 
that  is  purely  selfish.  One  may  desire  to  see 
again  the  India  of  one's  books,  one's  studies, 
one's  dreams.  My  hope  is  to  see  again  the 
strong  points  of  that  India,  reinforced  by  the 
strong  points  of  this  age,  only  in  a  natural 
way.  The  new  state  of  things  must  be  a 
growth  from  within. 

"So  I  preach  only  the  Upanishads.  If 
you  look,  you  will  find  that  I  have  never  quoted 
anything  but  the  Upanishads.  And  of  the 
Upanishads,  it  is  only  that  one  idea  strength. 
The  quintessence  of  Vedas  and  Vedanta  and 
all,  lies  in  that  one  word.  Buddha's  teaching 
was  of  Non-resistance  or  Non-injury.  But 
I  think  this  is  a  better  way  of  teaching 
the  same  thing.  For  behind  that  Non-injury 



lay  a  dreadful  weakness.  It  is  weakness  that 
conceives  the  idea  of  resistance.  I  do  not 
think  of  punishing  or  escaping  from  a  drop  of 
sea-spray.  It  is  nothing  to  me.  Yet  to  the 
mosquito  it  would  be  serious.  Now  I  would 
make  all  injury  like  that.  Strength  and  fear- 
lessness. My  own  ideal  is  that  giant  of  a  saint 
whom  they  killed  in  the  Mutiny,  and  who 
broke  his  silence,  when  stabbed  to  the  heart, 
to  say — 'And  thou  also  art  He  !' 

"But  you  may  ask — what  is  the  place  of 
Ramakrishna  in  this  scheme  ? 

'  He  is  the  method,  that  wonderful  uncons- 
cious method  !  He  did  not  understand  him- 
self. He  knew  nothing  of  England  or  the 
English,  save  that  they  were  queer  folk 
from  over  the  sea.  But  he  lived  that  great 
life, — and  I  read  the  meaning.  Never  a  word 
of  condemnation  for  any  !  Once  I  had  been 
attacking  one  of  our  sects  of  Diabolists.  I 
had  been  raving  on  for  three  hours,  and  he 
had  listened  quietly.  'Well,  well !'  said  the 



old  man  as  I  finished,  'perhaps  every  house 
may  have  a  back  door.  Who  knows'  ? 

"Hitherto  the  great  fault  of  our  Indian 
religion  has  lain  in  its  knowing  only  two 
words — renunciation  and  mukti.  Only  muktt 
here  !  Nothing  for  the  householder  ! 

"But  these  ar^  the  very  people  whom  I 
want  to  help.  For  are  not  all  souls  of 
the  same  quality  ?  Is  not  the  goal  of  all 
the  same  ? 

"And  so  strength  must  come  to  the  nation 
through  education." 

I  thought  at  the  time,  and  I  think  increas- 
ingly, as  I  consider  it,  that  this  one  talk  of 
my  Master  had  been  well  worth  the  whole 
voyage,  to  have  heard. 



The  Swami  was  constantly  preoccupied 
with  the  thought  of  Hinduism  as  a  whole, 
and  this  fact  found  recurring  expression  in 
references  to  Vaishnavism.  As  a  sannyasin, 
his  own  imagination  was  perhaps  dominated 
by  the  conceptions  of  Saivaism.  But  Vaish- 
navism offered  him  a  subject  of  perpetual 
interest  and  analysis.  The  thing  he  knew 
by  experience  was  the  truth  of  the  doctrine 
of  Advaita.  The  symbols  under  which  he 
would  seek  to  convey  this  were  the  monastic 
ideal  and  the  Worship  of  the  Terrible.  But 
these  were  truths  for  heroes.  By  their 
means,  one  might  gather  an  army.  The 
bulk  of  mankind  would  always  think  of  God 
as  a  Divine  Providence,  a  tender  Preserver, 
and  the  question  of  questions  was  how  to 
deepen  the  popular  knowledge,  of  the  connec- 



tion  between  this  type  of  belief  and  the 
highest  philosophy.  With  regard  to  the 
West,  indeed,  the  bridges  had  actually  to  be 
built.  Advaita  had  to  be  explained  and 
preached.  But  in  India,  all  this  had  been 
done  long  ago.  The  facts  were  universally 
admitted.  It  was  only  necessary  to  renew 
realisation,  to  remind  the  nation  of  the  inter- 
relation of  all  parts  of  its  own  faith,  and  to 
go  again  and  again  over  the  ground,  in  order 
to  see  that  no  weak  point  remained,  in  the 
argument  by  which  Vaishnavism  was  de- 
monstrated to  be  as  essential  to  the  highest 
philosophy,  as  that  philosophy  was  acknowl- 
edged to  be,  to  it. 

Thus  he  loved  to  dwell  on  the  spectacle 
of  the  historical  emergence  of  Hinduism. 
He  sought  constantly  for  the  great  force 
behind  the  evolution  of  any  given  phenome- 
non. Where  was  the  thinker  behind  the 
founder  of  a  religion?  And  where,  on  the  other 
hand  was  the  heart  to  complete  the  thought? 



Buddha  had  received  his  philosophy  of  the 
five  categories — form,  feeling,  sensation,  mo- 
tion, knowledge — from  Kapila.  But  Buddha 
had  brought  the  love  that  made  the  philoso- 
phy live.  Of  no  one  of  these,  Kapila  had 
said,  can  anything  be  declared.  For  each 
is  not.  It  but  was,  and  is  gone.  "  Each  is 
but  the  ripple  on  the  waters.  Know,  Oh  man ! 
thou  art  the  sea!  " 

Krishna,  in  his  turn,  as  the  preacher 
and  creative  centre  of  popular  Hinduism, 
awoke  in  the  Swami  a  feeling  which 
was  scarcely  second  to  his  passionate 
personal  adoration  of  Buddha.  Compared 
to  His  many-sidedness,  the  sannyas  of 
Buddha  was  almost  a  weakness.  How 
wonderful  was  the  Gita!  Reading  it,  as  a  boy, 
he  would  be  stopped  every  now  and  then 
by  some  great  sentence,  which  would  go 
throbbing  through  his  brain  for  days  and 
nights.  "They  who  find  pleasure  and  pain 
the  same,  heat  and  cold  the  same,  friend 



and  foe  the  same!"  And  that  descrip- 
tion of  the  battle — a  spirited  battle  too ! — • 
with  the  opening  words  of  Krishna,  "  111 
doth  it  befit  thee,  Arjuna,  thus  to  yield  to 
unmanliness !"  How  strong!  But  besides 
this,  there  was  the  beauty  of  it.  The  Gita, 
after  the  Buddhist  writings,  was  such  a 
relief!  Buddha  had  constantly  said  "I  am 
for  the  People  !  "  And  they  had  crushed,  in 
his  name,  the  vanity  of  art  and  learning. 
The  great  mistake  committed  by  Buddhism 
lay  in  the  destruction  of  the  old. 

For  the  Buddhist  books  were  torture  to 
read.  Having  been  written  for  the  ignorant, 
one  would  find  only  one  or  two  thoughts 
in  a  huge  volume.*  It  was  to  meet  the 
need  thus  roused,  that  the  Puranas  were 
intended.  There  had  been  only  one  mind  in 
India  that  had  foreseen  this  need,  that  of 

*  It  is  not  be  supposed  that  the  Swami  here  referred  to  the 
Dhammapada — a  work  which  he  always  placed  on  a  level  with  the 
Gita.  The  reference,  I  think  was  rather  to  such  books  as  those 
Jataka  Birth  Stories  which  are  published  in  two  volumes  in 
Trubner's  Oriental  Series. 



Krishna,  probably  the  greatest  man  who  ever 
lived.  He  recognises  at  once  the  need  of  the 
People,  and  the  desirability  of  preserving  all 
that  had  already  been  gained.  Nor  are  the 
Gopi  story  and  the  Gita  (which  speaks  again 
and  again  of  women  and  sudras)  the  only 
forms  in  which  he  reached  the  ignorant. 
For  the  whole  Mahabharata  is  his,  carried 
out  by  his  worshippers,  and  it  begins 
with  the  declaration  that  it  is  for  the 

"Thus  is  created  a  religion  that  ends  in 
the  worship  of  Vishnu,  as  the  preservation 
and  enjoyment  of  life,  leading  to  the  realisa- 
of  God.  Our  last  movement,  Chaitanyism, 
you  remember,  was  for  enjoyment.*  At 
the  same  time,  Jainism  represents  the  other 
extreme,  the  slow  destruction  of  the  body 
by  self-torture.  Hence  Buddhism,  you  see, 
is  reformed  Jainism,  and  this  is  the  real 

*  The  Swami  was  characterising  doctrine  here  :  he  was  not 
speaking  of  the  personal  asceticism  of  Sri  Chaitainya,  which  has 
probably  never  been  surpassed. 



meaning  of  Buddha's  leaving  the  company 
of  the  five  ascetics.  In  India,  in  every  age, 
there  is  a  cycle  of  sects  which  represents 
every  gradation  of  physical  practice,  from 
the  extreme  of  self-torture  to  the  extreme  of 
excess.  And  during  the  same  period  will 
always  be  developed  a  metaphysical  cycle, 
which  represents  the  realisation  of  God  as 
taking  place  by  every  gradation  of  means, 
from  that  of  using  the  senses  as  an  instru- 
ment, to  that  of  the  annihilation  of  the  senses.. 
Thus  Hinduism  always  consists,  as  it  were, 
of  two  counter-spirals,  completing  each 
other,  round  a  single  axis. 

"Yes  l^Vaishnavism  says,  'It  is  all  right ! 
this  tremendous  love  for  father,  for  mother, 
for  brother,  husband,  or  child  !  It  is  all  right, 
if  only  you  will  think  that  Krishna  is  the 
child,  and  when  you  give  him  food,  that 
you  are  feeding  Krishna!'  This  was  the 
cry  of  Chaitanya,  'Worship  God  through 
the  senses!'  as  against  that  Vedantic 



cry,  'Control  the  senses !  suppress  the 
senses  !' 

"At  the  present  moment,  we  may  see  three 
different  positions  of  the  national  religion — 
the  orthodox,  the  Arya  Samaj,  and  the 
Brahmo  Samaj.  The  orthdox  covers  the 
ground  taken  by  the  Vedic  Hindus  of  the 
Mahabharata  epoch.  The  Arya  Samaj  corres- 
ponds with  Jainism,  aud  the  Brahmo  Samaj 
with  the  Buddhists. 

"I  see  that  India  is  a  young  and  living 
organism.  Europe  also  is  young  and  living. 
Neither  has  arrived  at  such  a  stage  of 
development  that  we  can  safely  criticise  its 
institutions.  They  are  two  great  experiments, 
neither  of  which  is  yet  complete.  In  India, 
we  have  social  communism,  with  the  light 
of  Advaita — that  is,  spiritual  individualism — - 
playing  on  and  around  it  ;  in  Europe,  you  are 
socially  individualists,  but  your  thought  is  dua- 
listic,  which  is  spiritual  communism.  Thus  the 
one  consists  of  socialist  institutions,  hedged 



in  by  individualistic  thought,  while  the  other 
is  made  up  of  individualist  institutions,  within 
the  hedge  of  communistic  thought. 

"Now  we  must  help  the  Indian  experiment 
as  it  is.  Movements  which  do  not  attempt  to 
help  things  as  they  are,  are,  from  that  point 
of  view,  no  good.  In  Europe,  for  instance,  I 
respect  marriage  as  highly  as  non-marriage. 
Never  forget  that  a  man  is  made  great  and 
perfect  as  much  by  his  faults  as  by  his 
virtues.  So  we  must  not  seek  to  rob  a 
nation  of  its  character,  even  if  it  could  be 
proved  that  that  character  was  all  faults." 

His  mind  was  extraordinarily  clear  on 
the  subject  of  what  he  meant  by  individualism. 
How  often  has  he  said  to  me  "You  do  not 
yet  understand  India!  We  Indians  are  MAN- 
worshippers,  after  all !  Our  God  is  man !" 
He  meant  here  the  great  individual  man,  the 
man  of  self-realisation, — Buddha,  Krishna, 
the  Guru,  the  Maha-Purusha.  But  on  another 
occasion,  using  the  same  word  in  an  entirely 



different  sense,  he  said  "This  idea  of  man- 
worship*  exists  in  nucleus  in  India,  but  it  has 
never  been  expanded.  You  must  develop  it. 
Make  poetry,  make  art,  of  it.  Establish  the 
worship  of  the  feet  of  beggars,  as  you  had  it 
in  Mediaeval  Europe.  Make  man-worship- 
pers. " 

He  was  equally  clear,  again,  about  the 
value  of  the  image.  "You  may  always  say,  " 
he  said,  "that  the  image  is  God.  The  error 
you  have  to  avoid,  is  to  think  God  the  image." 
He  was  appealed  to,  on  one  occasion,  to 
condemn  the  fetichism  of  the  Hottentot. 
"I  do  not  know,"  he  answered,  "what 
fetichism  is !" 

A  lurid  picture  was  hastily  put  before 
him,  of  the  object  alternately  worshipped, 
beaten,  thanked,  "/  do  that !"  he  exclaim- 
ed. "Don't  you  see,"  he  went  on,  a  moment 
later,  in  hot  resentment  of  injustice  done  to 

*  That  is  to  say,  the  worship  of  the  manhood  which  exists  in  any 
man,  in  all  men,  apart  from  their  individual  achievement  of  thought 
or  character,  humanity. 



the  lowly  and  absent,  "Don't  you  see  that 
there  is  no  fetichism  ?  Oh,  your  hearts  are 
steeled,  that  you  cannot  see  that  the  child  is 
right !  The  child  sees  person  everywhere. 
Knowledge  robs  us  of  the  child's  vision.  But 
at  last,  through  higher  knowledge,  we  win 
back  to  it.  He  connects  a  living  power  with 
rocks,  sticks,  trees,  and  the  rest.  And  is 
there  not  a  living  Power  behind  them  ?  It  is 
symbolism,  not  fetichism  !  Can  you  not  see  ?" 

But  while  every  sincere  ejaculation  was 
thus  sacred  to  him,  he  never  forgot  for  a 
moment  the  importance  of  the  philosophy  of 
Hinduism.  And  he  would  throw  perpetual 
flashes  of  poetry  into  the  illustration  of  such 
arguments  as  are  known  to  lawyers.  How 
lovingly  he  would  dwell  upon  the  mimansaka 
philosophy !  With  what  pride  he  would 
remind  the  listener  that,  according  to  Hindu 
savants,  "the  whole  universe  is  only  the  mean- 
ing of  words.  After  the  word  comes  the 
thing.  Therefore,  the  idea  is  all !"  And  in- 



deed,  as  he  expounded  it,  the  daring  of  the 
mimansaka  argument,  the  fearlessness  of  its- 
admissions,  and  the  firmness  of  its  inferences, 
appeared  as  the  very  glory  of  Hinduism, 
There  is  assuredly  no  evasion  of  the  logical 
issue  in  a  people  who  can  say,  even  while 
they  worship  the  image,  that  the  image  is 
nothing  but  the  idea  made  objective ; 
that  prayer  is  powerful  in  proportion  to  the 
concentration  it  represents ;  that  the  gods- 
exist  only  in  the  mind,  and  yet  the  more  as- 
suredly exist.  The  whole  train  of  thought 
sounded  like  the  most  destructive  attack  of 
the  iconoclast,  yet  it  was  being  used  for  the 
exposition  of  a  faith  !  One  day,  he  told  the 
story  of  Satyavama's  sacrifice  and  how  the 
word  "Krishna,"  written  on  a  piece  of  paper, 
and  thrown  into  the  balances,  made  Krishna 
himself,  on  the  other  side,  kick  the  beam. 
"Orthodox  Hinduism"  he  began,  "makes 
sruti,  the  sound,  everything.  The  thing  is  but 
a  feeble  manifestation  of  the  pre-existing  and 



•eternal  Idea.  So  the  name  of  God  is  every- 
thing :  God  Himself  is  merely  the  objectifica- 
tion  of  that  idea  in  the  eternal  mind.  Your 
own  name  is  infinitely  more  perfect  than  the 
person,  you !  The  name  of  God  is  greater 
than  God.  Guard  you  your  speech !"  Surely 
there  has  never  been  another  religious 
system  so  fearless  of  truth  !  As  he  talked,  one 
saw  that  the  whole  turned  on  the  unspoken 
conviction,  self-apparent  to  the  Oriental  mind, 
that  religion  is  not  a  creed,  but  an  experience ; 
a  process,  as  the  Swami  himself  has  else- 
where said,  of  being  and  becoming.  If  it  be 
true  that  this  process  leads  inevitably  from 
the  apprehension  of  the  manifold  to  the 
realisation  of  the  One,  then  it  must  also 
be  true  that  everything  is  in  the  mind,  and 
that  the  material  is  nothing  more  than  the 
concretising  of  ideas.  Thus  the  Greek  philo- 
sophy of  Plato  is  included  within  the  Hindu 
philosophy  of  the  mimansakas,  and  a  doctrine 
that  sounds  merely  empiric  on  the  lips  of 



Europe,  finds  reason  and  necessity,  on  those 
of  India.  In  the  same  way,  as  one  declaring 
a  truth  self-evident,  he  exclaimed,  on  one 
occasion,  "I  would  not  worship  even  the 
Greek  gods,  for  they  were  separate  from 
humanity  !  Only  those  should  be  worshipped 
who  are  like  ourselves,  but  greater.  The 
difference  between  the  gods  and  me  must  be 
a  difference  only  of  degree." 

But  his  references  to  philosophy  did  not  by 
any  means  always  consist  of  these  epicurean 
tit-bits.  He  was  merciless,  as  a  rule,  in  the 
demand  for  intellectual  effort,  and  would 
hold  a  group  of  unlearned  listeners  through 
an  analysis  of  early  systems,  for  a  couple  of 
hours  at  a  stretch,  without  suspecting  them, 
of  weariness  or  difficulty.  It  was  evident,  too, 
at  such  times,  that  his  mind  was  following 
the  train  of  argument  in  another  language, 
for  his  translations  of  technical  terms  would 
vary  from  time  to  time. 

In  this  way  he  would  run  over  the  six 



objects  with  which  the  mind  has  to  deal,  in 
making  up  the  universe  according  to  the 
Vaisheshik  formulation.  These  were  sub- 
stance,* quality,  action,  togetherness, 
classification  or  differentiation,  and  in- 
separable inherence  as  between  cause  and 
effect,  parts  and  the  whole.  With  this  he 
would  compare  the  five  categories  of 
Buddhism, — form,  feeling,  consciousness, 
reaction  \i.  e.  the  resultant  of  all  previous 
impressions],  and  vidya,  or  judgment.  The 
Buddhist  made  form  the  resultant  of  all 
the  others,  and  nothing  by  itself;  the  goal 
therefore,  for  Buddhism,  was  beyond  vidya 
[which  Buddhism  called  Pro/no],  and  out- 
side the  five  categories.  Side  by  side  with  this, 
he  would  place  the  three  illusive  categories  of 
the  Vedanta  (and  of  Kant) — time,  space, 
and  causation  \Kala-desh-nimittd\  appearing 
as  name-and-form,  which  is  maya,  that 

*  Subttance,   according  to  the  Vaisheshik,  consists  of  the  fire 
elements,  time  space,    mind  and  soul. 



is  to  say,  neither  existence  nor  non- 
existence.  It  was  clear,  then,  that  the  seen 
was  not,  according  to  this,  a  being.  Rather 
is  it  an  eternal,  changeful  process.  Being 
is  one,  but  process  makes  this  being  appear 
as  many.  Evolution  and  involution  are  both 
alike  in  Maya.  They  are  certainly  not 
in  Being  [Sat],  which  remains  eternally  the 

Nor  would  western  speculations  pass 
forgotten,  in  this  great  restoration  of  the 
path  the  race  had  come  by.  For  this  was  a 
mind  which  saw  only  the  seeking,  pursuing, 
enquiry  of  man,  making  no  arbitrary  distinc- 
tions as  between  ancient  and  modern.  The 
analysis  of  the  modern  syllogism — under  the 
old  Indian  title  of  "the  five  limbs  of  the  argu- 
ment"— would  be  followed  by  the  four  proofs 
of  the  Nyayas.  These  were,  (i)  direct  per- 
ception ;  (2)  inference  ;  (3)  analogy  ;  and 
(4)  testimony.  According  to  this  logic, 
the  induction  and  deduction  of  the  moderns 



were  not  recognised :  inference  was  regarded  as 
always  from  the  more  known  to  the  less  known, 
or  from  the  less  to  the  more.  The  inference 
from  direct  perception  was  divided  into  three 
different  kinds:  first,  that  in  which  the  effect  is 
inferred  from  the  cause;  second,  that  in  which 
cause  is  inferred  from  effect,  and  thirdly, 
the  case  in  which  inference  is  determined 
by  concomitant  circumstances.  Methods 
of  inference,  again,  were  fivefold  :  by  agree- 
ment, by  difference,  by  double  method 
of  agreement  and  difference,  by  partial 
method  of  agreement,  and  by  partial  method 
of  difference.  The  two  last  were  sometimes 
classed  together  as  the  method  of  the 
residuum.  It  was  quite  clear  that  only  the 
third  of  these  could  furnish  a  perfect 
inference  ;  that  is  to  say,  "proof  is  only 
complete  when  the  negative  has  been 
proved,  as  well  as  the  affirmative.  Thus 
God  can  never  be  proved  to  be  the  cause 
of  the  Universe. 



"There  is,  again,  the  fact  of  pervasiveness 
A  stone  falls,  and  crushes  a  worm.  Hence 
we  infer  that  all  stones,  falling,  crush  worms. 
Why  do  we  thus  immediately  re-apply  a  per- 
ception ?  Experience,  says  some  one.  But  it 
happens,  let  us  suppose,  for  the  first  time. 
Throw  a  baby  into  the  air,  and  it  cries. 
Experience  from  past  lives  ?  But  why  ap- 
plied to  the  future  ?  Because  there  is  a 
real  connection  between  certain  things,  a 
pervasiveness,  only  it  lies  with  us  to  see 
that  the  quality  neither  overlaps,  nor  falls 
short  of,  the  instance.  On  this  discrimina- 
tion depends  all  human  knowledge. 

"With  regard  to  fallacies,  it  must  be  re- 
membered that  direct  perception  itself  can 
only  be  a  proof,  provided  the  instrument,  the 
method,  and  the  persistence  of  the  perception, 
are  all  maintained  pure.  Disease,  or  emo- 
tion, will  have  the  effect  of  disturbing  the 
observation.  Therefore  direct  perception 
itself  is  but  a  mode  of  inference.  Therefore 



all  human  knowledge  is  uncertain,  and  may 
be  erroneous.  Who  is  a  true  witness  ?  He 
is  a  true  witness  to  whom  the  thing  said  is  a 
direct  perception.  Therefore  the  Vedas  are 
true,  because  they  consist  of  the  evidence 
of  competent  persons.  But  is  this  power  of 
perception  peculiar  to  any  ?  No !  The  Rishi 
the  Aryan,  and  the  Mlechha  all  alike 
have  it. 

"Modern  Bengal  holds  that  evidence 
is  only  a  special  case  of  direct  perception, 
and  that  analogy  and  parity  of  reasoning  are 
only  bad  inferences.  Therefore  of  actual 
proofs  there  are  only  two,  direct  perception 
and  inference. 

One  set  of  persons,  you  see,  gives  priority 
to  the  external  manifestation,  the  other 
to  the  internal  idea.  Which  is  prior,  the  bird 
to  the  egg,  or  the  egg  to  the  bird  ?  Does  the 
oil  hold  the  cup  or  the  cup  the  oil  ?  This  is  a 
problem  of  which  there  is  no  solution.  Give 
it  up  !  Escape  from  Maya  !" 



On  July  the  3ist,  we  arrived  in  London, 
and  the  voyage  that  to  myself  had  been 
so  memorable,  was  over.  The  Swami 
spent  a  few  weeks  in  Wimbledon,  but  at 
this  time  of  the  year,  not  many  of  his 
friends  were  in  town,  and  before  long  he 
acceded  to  the  invitations  which  were  cons- 
tantly reaching  him,  and  went  on  to  America, 
there  to  wait,  in  a  beautiful  country-home  on 
the  Hudson,  for  the  leading  that  he  confi- 
dently expected,  to  show  him  where  his  next 
effort  was  to  lie.  A  month  later,  I  became 
a  guest  in  the  same  house,  and  continued 
to  see  him  daily,  until  November  the  5th,  that 
is  to  say,  six  or  seven  weeks  later.  After 
that  date,  when  our  party  was  broken  up, 
the  Swami  paid  a  few  visits  in  New  York 
and  its  neighbourhood.  At  the  end  of  the 



month  he  passed  through  Chicago,  where- 
I  then  was,  on  his  way  to  California.  Again 
I  met  him  in  New  York  in  the  following 
June  (1900).  There  for  a  few  weeks,  and 
later  in  Paris  for  a  similar  length  of  time, 
I  saw  him  frequently  ;  and  in  September, 
finally,  I  spent  a  fortnight  as  his  fellow- 
guest,  with  American  friends,  in  Brittany. 
So  ends  the  priceless  memory  of  the  years  of 
my  schooling  under  him.  For  when  I  next 
saw  my  Master,  in  India  in  the  first  half  of 
1902,  it  was  only  to  receive  his  final  blessing 
and  take  a  last  farewell. 

Discipleship  is  always  serenely  passive, 
but  it  changes,  at  a  moment's  notice,  into' 
strenuous  effort  and  activity,  when  the  per- 
sonal presence  of  the  Teacher  is  withdrawn. 
And  this  last  was  what  our  Master  above 
all  expected  of  his  disciples.  He  said  once 
that  whenever  a  young  monk,  received  for  a 
few  weeks  or  months  into  the  monastery, 
complained  that  as  yet  he  had  learnt  nothing. 


he  always  sent  him  back  for  a  while  to  the 
world  he  had  left,  there  to  find  out  how  very 
much  he  had  in  fact  absorbed.  Every  part- 
ing from  him  was  like  the  entrusting  of  a 
standard  for  warfare.  "  Be  the  heroic  Raj- 
put wife !"  he  exclaimed  in  an  undertone  on 
one  occasion,  to  a  girl  who  was  about  to 
give  way  to  emotion,  at  saying  farewell  to 
her  betrothed.  And  the  words  acted  like  a 
charm.  His  last  words,  after  my  brief 
glimpse  of  him  in  Chicago,  were  "  Remem- 
ber! the  message  of  India  is  always  '  Not 
the  soul  for  Nature,  but  Nature  for  the  soul\ 
When  I  said  good-bye  to  him  in  Brittany 
in  September,  1900,  I  was  on  the  eve  of 
returning  alone  to  England,  there  to  find 
friends  and  means,  if  possible,  for  the  Indian 
work.  I  knew  nothing  as  yet  of  the  length  of 
my  stay.  I  had  no  plans.  And  the  thought 
may  have  crossed  his  mind  that  old  ties 
were  perilous  to  a  foreign  allegiance.  He 
had  seen  so  many  betrayals  of  honour  that 



he  seemed  always  to  be  ready  for  a  new 
desertion.  In  any  case,  the  moment  was 
critical  to  the  fate  of  the  disciple,  and  this  he 
did  not  fail  to  realise.  Suddenly,  on  my 
last  evening  in  Brittany,  when  supper  was 
some  time  over,  and  the  darkness  had 
fallen,  I  heard  him  at  the  door  of  my  little 
arbour-study,  calling  me  into  the  garden. 
I  came  out,  and  found  him  waiting  to  give 
me  his  blessing,  before  leaving,  with  a  man- 
friend,  for  the  cottage  where  they  were  both 

"  There  is  a.  peculiar  sect  of  Mohamme- 
dans, "  he  said,  when  he  saw  me,  "who  are 
reported  to  be  so  fanatical  that  they  take 
each  newborn  babe,  and  expose  it,  saying, 
'If  God  made  thee,  perish!  If  Ali  made  thee, 
live ! '  Now  this  which  they  say  to  the  child, 
I  say,  but  in  the  opposite  sense,  to  you,  to- 
night— 'Go  forth  into  the  world,  and  there,  if 
I  made  you,  be  destroyed!  If  Mother  made 
ybu,  live!" 



Yet  he  came  again  next  morning,  soon 
after  dawn,  to  say  farewell,  and  in  my  last 
memory  of  him  in  Europe,  I  look  back  once 
more  from  the  peasant  market-cart,  and  see 
his  form  against  the  morning  sky,  as  he 
stands  on  the  road  outside  our  cottage  at 
Lannion,  with  hands  uplifted,  in  that  Eastern 
salutation  which  is  also  benediction, 

The  outstanding  impression  made  by  the 
Swami's  bearing,  during  all  these  months  of 
European  and  American  life,  was  one  of  al- 
most complete  indifference  to  his  surround- 
ings. Current  estimates  of  value  left  him 
entirely  unaffected.  He  was  never  in  any 
way  startled  or  incredulous  under  success, 
being  too  deeply  convinced  of  the  greatness 
of  the  Power  that  worked  through  him,  to  be 
surprised  by  it.  But  neither  was  he  un- 
nerved by  external  failure,  Both  victory 
and  defeat  would  come  and  go.  He  was 
their  witness.  "  Why  should  I  care,  if  the 
world  itself  were  to  disappear  ?"  he  said  once. 



"  According  to  my  philosophy,  that,  you 
know,  would  be  a  very  good  thing !  But  in 
fact,"  he  added,  in  tones  suddenly  graver, 
"  All  that  is  against  me  must  be  with  me  in 
the  end.  Am  I  not  HER  soldier  ?  " 

He  moved  fearless  and  unhesitant  through 
the  luxury  of  the  West.  As  determinedly  as 
I  had  seen  him  in  India,  dressed  in  the  two 
garments  of  simple  folk,  sitting  on  the  floor 
and  eating  with  his  fingers,  so,  equally  with- 
out doubt  or  shrinking,  was  his  acceptance  of 
the  complexity  of  the  means  of  living  in 
America  or  France.  Monk  and  king,  he  said, 
were  obverse  and  reverse  of  a  single  medal. 
From  the  use  of  the  best,  to  the  renunciation 
of  all,  was  but  one  step.  India  had  thrown 
all  her  prestige  in  the  past,  round  poverty. 
Some  prestige  was  in  the  future  to  be  cast 
round  wealth. 

Rapid  changes  of  fortune,  however,  must 
always  be  the  fate  of  one  who  wanders  from 
door  to  door,  accepting  the  hospitality  of 



foreign  peoples.  These  reversals  he  never 
seemed  to  notice.  No  institution,  no  envi- 
ronment, stood  between  him  and  any  human 
heart.  His  confidence  in  that  Divine-within- 
Man  of  which  he  talked,  was  as  perfect,  and 
his  appeal  as  direct,  when  he  talked  with  the 
imperialist  aristocrat  or  the  American  mil- 
lionaire, as  with  the  exploited  and  oppressed. 
But  the  out-flow  of  his  love  and  courtesy 
were  always  for  the  simple. 

When,  travelling  in  America,  he  had  at 
first  in  certain  Southern  towns  been  taken 
for  a  negro,  and  refused  admission  to  the 
hotels,  he  had  never  said  that  he  was  not  of 
African  blood,  but  had  as  quietly  and  grate- 
fully availed  himself  of  the  society  of  the 
coloured  race,  when  that  was  offered,  as  of 
that  of  the  local  magnates  who  hastened 
round  him  later,  in  mortified  apology  for 
what  they  deemed  the  insult  put  upon  him. 
"What !  rise  at  the  expense  of  another !"  he 
was  heard  to  say  to  himself,  long  after,  when 



some  one  referred  with  astonishment  to 
this  silence  about  his  race,  "Rise  at  the 
expense  of  another !  I  did  n't  come  to 
earth  for  that !"  It  is  not  for  the  monk  to 
dictate  terms :  the  monk  submits.  Often, 
in  after-years,  he  spoke  of  the  pathos  of 
the  confidences  regarding  race-exclu- 
sion, which  he  had  received  at  this  time. 
Few  things  ever  gave  him  such  pleasure  as 
a  negro  railway-servant  who  came  up  to  him 
on  one  occasion,  in  a  station,  saying  that  he 
had  heard  how  in  him  one  of  his  own  people 
had  become  a  great  man,  and  he  would  like 
to  shake  hands.  Finally,  it  was  never  pos- 
sible, in  his  presence,  for  the  vulgar  social 
exultation  of  the  white  man  to  pass  unrebuk- 
ed.  How  stern  he  would  become  at  any 
sign  of  this  !  How  scathing  was  his  reproof! 
And  above  all,  how  glowing  was  the  picture 
he  would  paint,  of  a  possible  future  for  these 
children  of  the  race,  when  they  should  have 
outstripped  all  others,  and  become  the  leaders 



of  Humanity !  He  was  scornful  in  his  repu- 
diation of  the  pseudo-ethnology  of  privileged 
races.  "  If  I  am  grateful  to  my  white-skin- 
ned Aryan  ancestor,"  he  said,  '•  I  am  far 
more  so  to  my  yellow-skinned  Mongolian 
ancestor,  and  most  so  of  all,  to  the  black- 
skinned  Negritoid  ! " 

He  was  immensely  proud,  in  his  own 
physiognomy,  of  what  he  called  his  'Mongo- 
lian jaw,'  regarding  it  as  a  sign  of  'bull-dog, 
tenacity  of  purpose';  and  referring  to  this 
particular  race-element,  which  he  believed  to 
be  behind  every  Aryan  people,  he  one  day 
exclaimed  "  Don't  you  see  ?  the  Tartar  is  the 
wine  of  the  race  !  He  gives  energy  and 
power  to  every  blood  !" 

In  seeking  to  penetrate  his  indifference  to 
circumstance,  one  has  to  remember  that  it 
was  based  on  a  constant  effort  to  find  the 
ideal  thinking-place.  Each  family,  each 
hearth-stone,  was  appreciated  by  him,  in  the 
degree  in  which  it  provided  that  mental  and 



emotional  poise  which  makes  the  highest 
intellectual  life  possible.  One  of  a  party  who 
visited  Mont  Saint  Michel  with  him  on  Mi- 
chaelmas Day  1900,  and  happened  to  stand 
next  to  him,  looking  at  the  dungeon-cages  of 
mediaeval  prisoners,  was  startled  to  hear  him 
say,  under  his  breath,  "What  a  wonderful 
place  for  meditation  !"  There  are  still  some 
amongst  those  who  entertained  him  in  Chi- 
cago in  1893,  wno  tell  of  the  difficulty  with 
which,  on  his  first  arrival  in  the  West,  he 
broke  through  the  habit  of  falling  constantly 
into  absorption.  He  would  enter  a  tram, 
and  have  to  pay  the  fare  for  the  whole  length 
of  the  line,  more  than  once  in  a  single  jour- 
ney, perhaps,  being  too  deeply  engrossed  in 
thought  to  know  when  he  had  reached  his  desti- 
nation. As  years  went  on,  and  these  friends 
met  him  from  time  to  time,  they  saw  the  gradual 
change  to  an  attitude  of  apparent  readiness 
and  actuality.  But  such  alterations  were 
little  more  than  surface-deep.  Beneath,  the 


will  glowed  with  all  its  old  fervour,  the  mind 
held  itself  ever  on  the  brink  of  the  universal. 
It  seemed  almost  as  if  it  were  by  some  anta- 
gonistic power,  that  he  was  '  bowled  along 
from  place  to  place,  being  broken  the  while/ 
to  use  his  own  graphic  phrase.  "  Oh  I  know 
I  have  wandered  over  the  whole  earth,"  he 
cried  once,  "  but  in  India  I  have  looked 
for  nothing,  save  the  cave  in  which  to- 
meditate ! " 

And  yet  he  was  a  constant  and  a  keen 
observer.  Museums,  universities,  institu- 
tions, local  history,  found  in  him  an  eager 
student.  It  was  the  personal  aspect  of  con- 
ditions that  left  him  unaffected.  Never  did 
the  contrast  between  two  hemispheres  pass 
before  a  mind  better  fitted  to  respond  to  its 
stimulus.  He  approached  everything  through 
the  ideas  which  it  sought  to  express.  During 
the  voyage  to  England,  he  came  on  deck  one 
day  after  a  sound  sleep,  and  told  me  that  he 
had  in  his  dreams  been  pursuing  a  discussion, 



as  between  Eastern  and  Western  ideals  of 
marriage,  and  had  come  to  the  conclusion 
that  there  was  something  in  both  that  the 
world  could  ill  afford  to  lose.  At  the  end  of 
his  last  visit  to  America,  he  told  me  that  on 
first  seeing  Western  civilisation  he  had  been 
greatly  attracted  by  it,  but  now  he  saw 
mainly  its  greed  and  power,  Like  others,  he 
had  accepted  without  thought  the  assumption 
that  machinery  would  be  a  boon  to  agricul- 
ture, but  he  could  now  see  that  while  the 
American  farmer,  with  his  several  square 
miles  to  farm,  might  be  the  better  for  ma- 
chines, they  were  likely  to  do  little  but  harm 
on  the  tiny  farmlands  of  the  Indian  peasan- 
try. The  problem  was  quite  different  in  the 
two  cases.  Of  that  alone,  he  was  firmly  con- 
vinced. In  everything,  including  the  problem 
of  distribution,  he  listened  with  suspicion  to 
all  arguments  that  would  work  for  the  elimi- 
nation of  small  interests,  appearing  in  this  as 
in  so  many  other  things,  as  the  perfect, 



though  unconscious  expression,  of  the  spirit 
of  the  old  Indian  civilisation.  A  strong  habit 
of  combination  he  was  able  to  admire,  but 
what  beauty  of  combination  was  there, 
amongst  a  pack  of  wolves  ? 

He  had  an  intense  objection  to  discussing 
the  grievances,  or  the  problems  of  India,  in 
a  foreign  country  ;  and  felt  deeply  humiliated 
when  this  was  done  in  his  presence.  Nor 
did  he  ever  fail,  on  the  other  hand,  to  back 
a  fellow-countryman  against  the  world.  It 
was  useless  for  Europeans  to  talk  to  him  of 
their  theories,  if  an  Indian  investigator  in  the 
same  line  had  come  to  an  opposite  conclu- 
sion. With  the  simplicity  and  frankness  of  a 
child,  he  would  answer  that  he  supposed  his 
friend  would  invent  more  delicate  instru- 
ments, and  make  more  accurate  measure 
ments,  which  would  enable  him  to  prove 
his  point. 

Thus,  student  and  citizen  of  the  world  as 
others  were  proud  to  claim  him,   it  was  yet 



always  on  the  glory  of  his  Indian  birth  that 
he  took  his  stand.  And  in  the  midst  of  the 
surroundings  and  opportunities  of  princes,  it 
was  more  and  more  the  monk  who  stood 




The  mission  of  Buddha,  in  the  centuries 
before  the  Christian  era,  was  twofold.  He 
was  the  source,  on  the  one  hand,  of  a  current 
of  energy,  that  swept  out  from  the  home- 
waters  to  warm  and  fertilise  the  shores  of 
distant  lands.  India,  scattering  his  message 
over  the  Eastern  world,  became  the  maker 
of  nations,  of  churches,  of  literatures,  arts 
and  scientific  systems,  in  countries  far  beyond 
her  own  borders.  But  within  India  proper, 
the  life  of  the  Great  Teacher  was  the  first 
nationaliser.  By  democratising  the  Aryan 
culture  of  the  Upanishads,  Buddha  deter- 
mined the  common  Indian  civilisation,  and 
gave  birth  to  the  Indian  nation  of  future 

Similiarly,  in  the  great  life  that   I   have 



seen,  I  cannot  but  think  that  a  double  pur- 
pose is  served, — one  of  world-moving,  and 
another,  of  nation-making.  As  regarded 
foreign  countries,  Vivekananda  was  the  first 
authoritative  exponent,  to  Western  nations, 
of  the  ideas  of  the  Vedas  and  Upanishads. 
He  had  no  dogma  of  his  own  to  set  forth.  "I 
have  never,"  he  said,  "quoted  anything  but 
the  Vedas  and  Upanishads,  and  from  them 
only  that  the  word  strength  !"  He  preached 
mukti  instead  of  heaven ;  enlightenment  in- 
stead of  salvation  ;  the  realisation  of  the 
Immanent  Unity,  Brahman,  instead  of  God; 
the  truth  of  all  faiths,  instead  of  the  binding 
force  of  any  one. 

Western  scholars  were  sometimes  amazed 
and  uncomfortable,  at  hearing  the  subject  of 
the  learned  researches  of  the  study  poured 
out  as  living  truths,  with  all  the  fervour  of  the 
pulpit,  but  the  scholarship  of  the  preacher 
proved  itself  easily  superior  to  any  tests  they 
could  offer.  His  doctrine  was  no  academic 



system  of  metaphysics,  of  purely  historic  and 
linguistic  interest,  but  the  heart's  faith  of  a 
living  people,  who  have  struggled  continuous- 
ly for  its  realisation,  in  life  and  in  death,  for 
twenty-five  centuries.  Books  had  been  to  him 
not  the  source  and  fountain  of  knowledge, 
but  a  mere  commentary  on,  and  explanation 
of,  a  Life  whose  brightness  would,  without 
them  have  dazzled  him,  and  left  him  incap- 
able of  analysing  it.  It  had  been  this  same 
life  of  Ramakrishna  Paramahamsa  that  had 
forced  upon  him  the  conviction  that  the 
theory  of  Advaita,  as  propounded  by  Sankar- 
acharya — the  theory  that  all  is  One  and  there 
is  no  second — was  ultimately  the  only  truth. 
It  was  this  life,  re-enforced  of  course  by  his 
own  experience,  that  had  convinced  him  that 
even  such  philosophies  *  as  seemed  to  culmi- 
nate at  a  point  short  of  the  Absolute  One- 
ness, would  prove  in  the  end  to  be  dealing 

*  Dualism,  the  doctrine  of  the  ultimate  difference  between  soul 
and  God,  saved  and  Saviour;  and  Qualified  Dualism,  the  mergence 
••f  the  soul  in  the  realisation  of  God,  but  not  in  His  being. 



with   phases    only,    of  this    supreme    realis- 

As  an  expression  of  this  goal,  however, 
every  sincere  belief  was  true.  "Bow  thy  head 
and  adore,"  had  said  Sri  Ramakrishna,  "where 
others  worship,  for  in  that  form  in  which 
man  has  called  on  Him,  God  will  assuredly 
appear."  At  each  step  between  the  earth  and 
the  sun,  said  the  Swami,  we  might  conceiv- 
ably take  a  photograph.  No  two  of  these 
would  be  perfectly  similar.  Yet  which  could 
be  said  to  be  untrue  ?  These  sayings  referred 
to  the  compatibility  of  the  antagonistic 
religious  ideas  of  different  sects  and  creeds. 
But  when  the  Teacher  of  Dukshineshwar  set 
himself  to  determine  the  accessibility  of  the 
highest  illumination  through  the  life  of 
woman,  we  are  perhaps  justified  in  feeling 
that  he  opened  the  door  to  a  deeper  regard 
for  the  sacredness  of  what  is  common- 
ly considered  to  be  merely  social  and  secular. 
In  a  world  of  symbols,  he  proved  the  service 



of  the  home  as  true  a  means  to  God  as  atten- 
dance on  the  altar;  the  sacraments  of  the 
temple,  though  served  by  priestly  hands,  not 
more  a  means  of  grace  than  the  common 
bread  of  the  household,  broken  and  distribu- 
ted by  wife  or  mother.  "Everything,  even 
the  name  of  God,"  said  Sri  Ramkrishna,  "is 
Maya.  But  some  of  this  Maya  helps  us  to- 
wards freedom  ;  the  rest  only  leads  us 
deeper  into  bondage."  In  showing,  that 
the  daily  life  of  a  good  woman  was  thus 
blessed,  that  a  home  was  a  temple,  that 
•courtesy,  hospitality,  and  the  fulfilment  of 
duty  in  the  world  might  be  made  into  one 
long  act  of  worship,  Sri  Ramakrishna,  as  I 
think,  provided  basis  and  sanction  for  what 
was  to  be  a  predominant  thought  with  his 
great  disciple. 

The  Swami  Vivekananda,  in  his  wander- 
ings over  India  during  subseqent  years, 
studied  its  multitude  of  small  social  forma- 
tions, each  embodying  its  central  religious 



conviction,  and  found  in  all  broken  gleams  of 
that  brightness  which  he  had  seen  at  its  full- 
est in  his  Master.  But  when,  in  1893,  he 
began  to  see  the  world  outside  India,  it  was 
by  national  and  patriotic  unities  that  he  was 
confronted.  And  in  these,  as  naturally  as  in 
the  creeds  and  sects  of  his  own  land,  he  con- 
tinued to  feel  the  outworking  of  the  Divine 
within  Man.  For  many  years,  this  was  entire- 
ly unconscious,  yet  no  one  around  him  stood 
unimpressed  by  his  eager  study  of  the  strong 
points  of  different  peoples. 

One  day,  in  the  course  of  my  voyage  to- 
England,  when  he  had  been  telling  me,  with 
the  greatest  delight,  of  the  skilled  seaman- 
ship and  exquisite  courtesy  of  the  Turk,  I 
drew  his  attention  to  the  astonishing  charac- 
ter of  his  enthusiasm.  His  mind  seemed  to 
turn  to  the  thought  of  the  ship's  servants, 
whose  childlike  devotion  to  himself  had 
touched  him  deeply.  "You  see,  I  love  our 
Mohammedans  !"  he  said  simply,  as  if  accus- 



ed  of  a  fault.  "Yes,"  I  answered,  "but  what 
I  want  to  understand  is  this  habit  of  seeing 
every  people  from  their  strongest  aspect. 
Where  did  it  come  from  ?  Do  you  recognise 
it  in  any  historical  character  ?  Or  is  it  in 
some  way  derived  from  Sri  Ramakrishna  ?" 

Slowly  the  look  of  puzzled  surprise  left 
his  face.  "It  must  have  been  the  training 
under  Ramakrishna  Paramahamsa,"  he 
answered.  "We  all  went  by  his  path  to  some 
extent.  Of  course  it  was  not  so  difficult  for 
us  as  he  made  it  for  himself.  He  would  eat 
and  dress  like  the  people  he  wanted  to  un- 
derstand, take  their  initiation,  and  use  their 
language.  'One  must  learn,'  he  said  'to  put 
oneself  into  another  man's  very  soul.'  And 
this  method  was  his  own  !  No  one  ever  be- 
fore in  India  became  Christian  and  Moham- 
medan and  Vaishnava  by  turns  !" 

Thus  a  nationality,  in  the  Swami's  eyes, 
had  all  the  sacredness  of  a  church, — a  church 
whose  inmost  striving  was  to  express  its  own 



conception  of  ideal  manhood.  "The  longer 
I  live,"  he  was  once  heard  to  ejaculate,  "the 
more  I  think  that  the  whole  thing  is  summed 
up  in  manliness !" 

By  a  reflex  of  consciousness,  the  more  he 
became  acquainted  with  the  strength  and 
lovableness  of  other  nations,  the  more  proud 
he  grew  of  his  Indian  birth,  becoming  daily 
more  aware  of  those  things  in  which  his  own 
Motherland,  in  her  turn,  stood  supreme.  He 
discussed  nations,  like  epochs,  from  various 
points  of  view  successively,  not  blinding  him- 
self to  any  aspect  of  their  vast  personality. 
The  offspring  of  the  Roman  Empire  he 
considered  always  to  be  brutal,  and  the 
Japanese  notion  of  marriage  he  held  in 
horror.  Unvaryingly,  nevertheless,  he  would 
sum  up  the  case  in  terms  of  the  constructive 
ideals,  never  of  the  defects,  of  a  community; 
and  in  one  of  the  last  utterances  I  heard  from 
him  on  these  subjects,  he  said,  "For  pat- 
riotism, the  Japanese !  For  purity,  the 



Hindu  !  And  for  manliness,  the  European  ! 
There  is  no  other  in  the  world."  he  added 
with  emphasis,  "who  understands,  as  does 
the  Englishman,  what  should  be  the  glory  of 
a  man  !" 

His  object  as  regarded  India,  said  the 
Swami,  in  a  private  conversation,  had  always 
been  "to  make  Hinduism  aggressive."  The 
Eternal  Faith  must  become  active  and 
proselytising,  capable  of  sending  out  special 
missions,  of  making  converts,  of  taking  back 
into  her  fold  those  of  her  own  children  who 
had  been  perverted  from  her,  and  of  the 
conscious  and  deliberate  assimilation  of  new 
elements.  Did  he  know  that  any  community 
becomes  aggressive,  that  any  faith  will  be 
made  active,  the  moment  it  becomes  aware 
of  itself  as  an  organised  unity  ?  Did  he  know 
that  he  himself  was  to  make  this  self- recogni- 
tion possible  to  the  Church  of  his  forefathers? 
At  any  rate,  his  whole  work,  from  the  first, 
had  consisted,  according  to  his  own  state- 



ment,  of  "a  search  for  the  common  bases  of 
Hinduism."  He  felt  instinctively  that  to  find 
these  and  reassert  them,  was  the  one  way  of 
opening  to  the  Mother-Church  the  joyous 
conviction  of  her  own  youth  and  strength. 
Had  not  Buddha  preached  renunciation  and 
Nirvana,  and  because  these  were  the  essenti- 
als of  the  national  life,  had  not  India,  within 
two  centuries  of  his  death,  become  a  power- 
ful empire  ?  So  he,  too,  would  fall  back  upon 
the  essentials,  and  declare  them,  leaving 
results  to  take  care  of  themselves. 

He  held  that  the  one  authority  which 
Hinduism  clamed  to  rest  upon,  the  only  guide 
she  proposed  to  the  individual  soul,  was 
"spiritual  truth."  Those  laws  of  experience 
that  underlie,  and  give  birth  to,  all  scriptures, 
were  what  she  really  meant  by  the  word 
"Vedas."  The  books  called  by  that  name 
were  refused  by  some  of  her  children— the 
Jains  for  example — yet  the  Jains  were  none 
the  less  Hindus  for  that.  All  that  is  true  is 



Veda,  and  the  Jain  is  to  the  full  as  much 
bound  by  his  view  of  truth  as  any  other.  For 
he  would  extend  the  sphere  of  the  Hindu 
Church  to  its  utmost.  With  her  two  wings  he 
would  cover  all  her  fledglings.  "I  go  forth," 
he  had  said  of  himself  before  he  left  for 
America  the  first  time,  "I  go  forth,  to  preach 
a  religion  of  which  Buddhism  is  nothing  but 
a  rebel  child,  and  Christianity,  with  all  her 
pretensions,  only  a  distant  echo !"  Even  as 
books,  however,  he  would  claim  that  the 
glory  of  the  Vedic  scriptures  was  unique  in 
the  history  of  religion.  And  this  not  merely 
because  of  their  great  antiquity;  but  vastly 
more  for  the  fact  that  they,  alone  amongst 
all  the  authoritative  books  of  the  world,  warn- 
ed man  that  he  must  go  beyond  all  books. 

Truth  being  thus  the  one  goal  of  the 
Hindu  creeds,  and  this  being  conceived  of, 
not  as  revealed  truth  to  be  accepted,  but  as 
accessible  truth  to  be  experienced,  it  follow- 
ed that  there  could  never  be  any  antagonism^ 



real  or  imagined,  between  scientific  and  reli- 
gious conviction,  in  Hinduism.  In  this  fact 
the  Swami  saw  the  immense  capacity  of  the 
Indian  peoples  for  that  organised  conception 
of  science  peculiar  to  the  modern  era.  No 
advance  of  knowledge  had  ever  been  resist- 
ed by  the  religious  intellect  of  India.  Nor 
had  the  Hindu  clergy, — a  greater  glory  still ! 
— ever  been  known  to  protest  against  the 
right  of  the  individual  to  perfect  freedom  of 
thought  and  belief.  This  last  fact  indeed,  giv- 
ing birth  to  the  doctrine  of  the  Ishta  Devata* 
— the  idea  that  the  path  of  the  soul  is  to  be 
•chosen  by  itself — he  held  to  be  the  one  uni- 
versal differentia  of  Hinduism;  making  it  not 
only  tolerant,  but  absorbent,  of  every  possible 
form  of  faith  and  culture.  Even  the  temper 
-of  sectarianism,  characterised  by  the  convic- 
tion that  God  Himself  is  of  the  believer's 
creed,  and  his  limited  group  the  one  true 
church,  and  allying  itself,  as  it  now  and  then 

*  The    hosen  Ideal. 



will,  with  every  statement  that  man  has  ever 
formulated,  was  regarded  by  Hinduism,  he 
pointed  out,  as  a  symptom,  not  of  falsehood  or 
narrowness,  but  only  of  youth.  It  constituted 
as  Sri  Ramakrishna  had  said,  the  intellectual 
fence,  so  necessary  to  the  seedling,  but 
so  inimical  to  the  tree.  The  very  fact  that 
we  could  impose  limitations,  was  a  proof  that 
we  were  still  dealing  with  the  finite.  When 
the  cup  of  experience  should  be  full,  the  soul 
would  dream  only  of  the  Infinite.  "All  men 
hedge  in  the  fields  of  earth,  but  who  can 
hedge  in  the  sky  ?"  had  said  the  Master. 

The  vast  complexus  of  systems  which 
made  up  Hinduism,  was  in  every  case  based 
upon  the  experimental  realisation  of  religion, 
and  characterised  by  an  infinite  inclusiveness. 
The  only  tests  of  conformity  ever  imposed  by 
the  priesthood  had  been  social,  and  while 
this  had  resulted  in  a  great  rigidity  of  cus 
torn,  it  implied  that  to  their  thinking  the 
mind  was  eternally  free.  But  it  could  not 



be  disputed  that  the  thought-area  within 
Hinduism,  as  actually  realised,  had  been 
coloured  by  the  accumulation  of  a  few  distinct- 
ive ideas,  and  these  were  the  main  subjects 
of  the  Swami's  Address  before  the  Parlia- 
ment of  Religions,  at  Chicago,  in  1893. 

First  of  these  special  conceptions,  with 
which  India  might  be  said  to  be  identified, 
was  that  of  the  cyclic  character  of  the  cosmos. 
On  the  relation  of  Creator  aud  created,  as 
•equal  elements  in  a  dualism  which  can  never 
be  more  than  a  relative  truth,  Hinduism  had 
a  profound  philosophy,  which  Vivekananda, 
with  his  certainty  of  grasp,  was  able  to  set 
forth  in  a  few  brief  words.  The  next  doctrine 
which  he  put  forward,  as  distinctive  of  Indian 
thought  in  general,  was  that  of  reincarnation 
and  karma,  ending  in  the  manifestation  of 
the  divine  nature  of  man.  And  finally,  the 
universality  of  truth,  whatever  the  form  of 
thought  or  worship,  completed  his  enumera- 
tion of  these  secondary  differentia.  In  a  few 



clear  sentences,  he  had  conclusively  esta- 
blished the  unity,  and  delineated  the  salient 
features,  of  Hinduism.  The  remainder  of  his 
work  in  the  West  was,  in  the  main,  a  free  gift 
in  modern  and  universal  forms,  of  the  great 
inspirations  contained  in  the  Eternal  Faith. 
To  him,  as  a  religious  teacher,  the  whole 
world  was  India,  and  man,  everywhere,  a 
member  of  his  own  fold. 

It  was  on  his  return  to  India,  in  January 
1897,  that  the  Swami,  in  philosophic  form, 
made  that  contribution  to  the  thought  of, 
his  people,  which,  it  has  been  said  elsewhere, 
is  required  by  India  of  all  her  epoch-makers. 
Hitherto,  the  three  philosophic  systems — of 
Un-ism,  Dualism,  and  Modified  Un-ism,  or 
Advaita,  Dvaita,  and  Visishtadvaita— had 
been  regarded  as  offering  to  the  soul,  three 
different  ideals  of  liberation.  No  attempt  had 
ever  before  been  made  to  reconcile  these 
schools.  On  reaching  Madras,  however,  in 
1897,  Vivekananda  boldly  claimed  that  even 



the  utmost  realisations  of  Dualism  and  Modifi- 
ed Unism,  were  but  stages  on  the  way  to 
Unism  itself;  and  the  final  bliss,  for  all  alike, 
was  the  mergence  in  One  without  a  second. 
It  is  said  that  at  one  of  his  midday  question- 
classes,  a  member  of  his  audience  asked  him 
why,  if  this  was  the  truth,  it  had  never  be- 
fore been  mentioned  by  any  of  the  Masters. 
It  was  customary  to  give  answers  to  these 
questions,  first  in  English  and  then  in  Sans- 
krit, for  the  benefit  of  such  scholars  present 
as  knew  no  modern  language,  and  the  great 
gathering  was  startled,  on  this  occasion,  to 

hear  the  reply  " Because  I  was  born  for 

this,  and  it  was  left  for  me  to  do  !" 

In  India,  the  Swami  was  extremely  jealous 
of  any  attempt  to  exclude  from  Hinduism 
any  of  her  numerous  branches  and  offshoots. 
A  man  was  none  the  less  a  Hindu,  for  in- 
stance, in  his  eyes,  for  being  a  member  of  the 
Brahmo  or  the  Arya  Samaj.  The  great 
Sikh  Khalsa  was  one  of  the  finest  organisa- 



tions  ever  created  within  the  Mother-Church, 
and  by  her  genius.  With  what  ardour  he 
painted  for  us,  again  and  again,  the  scene 
in  which  Guru  Govinda  Singh  uttered 
his  call  to  sacrifice  !  There  were,  he  held, 
three  different  stratifications  to  be  recog- 
nised in  the  Faith.  One  was  that  of  the 
old  historic  Orthodoxy.  Another  consisted 
of  the  reforming  sects  of  the  Mohammedan 
period.  And  third  came  the  reforming  sects 
of  the  present  period.  But  all  these  were 
equally  Hindu.  He  never  forgot  that  his 
own  longing  to  consider  the  problems  of  his 
country  and  his  religion  on  the  grand  scale, 
had  found  its  first  fulfilment  in  his  youthful 
membership  of  the  Sadharan  Brahmo  Samaj. 
And  he  was  so  far  from  repudiating  this 
membership,  that  he  one  day  exclaimed — "  It 
is  for  them  to  say  whether  I  belong  to  them 
or  not !  Unless  they  have  removed  it,  my 
name  stands  on  their  books  to  this  day ! " 
Thus  a  man  was  equally  Hindu,  in  his  opinion,. 



whether  he  prefixed  to  the  adjective  the  mo- 
dification of  Arya,  Brahmo,  or  Orthodox. 
The  claim  of  the  Jain  to  a  place  within  the 
fold,  was  a  simple  matter  of  social  and  histori- 
cal demonstration.  The  Jains  of  Western 
India  would  be  indignant  to  this  day,  if  their 
right  to  rank  as  Hindus  were  seriously  ques- 
tioned. Even  now  they  exchange  daugh- 
ters in  marriage,  with  orthodox  houses,  of  caste 
correspondent  to  their  own.  And  even  now, 
their  temples  are  served  occasionally  by 
ordinary  Brahmins.  The  Swami  had  disci- 
ples amongst  all  faiths,  even  the  Mohamme- 
dan, and  by  the  good  offices  of  certain  of  his 
Jain  friends,  he  was  allowed  to  read  some  of 
their  sacred  books,  not  usually  accessible, 
except  to  members  of  their  own  congrega- 
tions. From  this  study,  he  was  deeply  im- 
pressed with  the  authenticity  of  their  doctri- 
nes and  traditions,  and  with  the  important 
part  which  they  had  played  in  the  evolution 
of  Hinduism.  Indian  religion  necessarily 



includes  amongst  its  strongest  ideas,  a  regard 
for  the  immanent  humanity  in  dunib  animals, 
and  deep  devotion  to  the  ascetic  ideal  of  saint- 
hood. These  two  features  had  been  isolated 
and  emphasised  by  the  Jains.  In  their  clear 
pronouncements  on  the  Germ  Theory,  more- 
over, confirmed  as  these  have  been  by  the 
researches  of  modern  science,  there  was 
evidence  sufficient  of  the  intellectual  and 
spiritual  stature  of  the  founders  of  the  school. 
The  Jain  is  obviously  right,  said  the  Swami, 
in  claiming  that  his  doctrines  were  in  the 
first  place  declared  by  Rishis. 

With  regard  to  the  Christianised  castes 
of  the  present  day,  the  Swami  hoped  that 
they  would  rise  in  social  status  by  adopting 
the  faith  of  the  dominant  political  faction,  and 
that  in  ages  to  come,  when  Christianity 
should  be  forgotten,  they  would  still  be  able 
to  maintain  this  advance.  In  this  way,  we 
might  hope  for  a  future  oblivion  jof  the  nine- 
teenth century,  as  a  disintegrating  force,  and 



the  permanent  enriching  of  the  Indian  system 
by  its  contributions.  In  evidence  of  the 
possibility  of  such  a  development,  was  there 
not  the  work  of  Chaitanya  in  Northern  India, 
and  the  fact  that  he  had  succeeded  in  forming, 
for  his  followers,  "  a  caste  of  very  great  res- 

Christianity,  in  her  present-day  workings, 
was  difficult  to  pardon.  Not  so  the  other 
non-Hindu  faith,  Islam.  The  picture  that 
this  name  called  up  to  our  Master's  mind  was 
always  of  an  eager  confraternity,  enfranchis- 
ing the  simple  and  democratising  the  great. 
As  a  factor  in  the  evolution  of  modern  India, 
he  could  never  for  a  moment  be  forgetful  of 
the  loyal  acceptance,  by  Islamic  intruders,  of 
the  old  Indian  civilisation,  and  administra- 
tive system.  Nor  could  he  disregard  the 
service  they  had  done,  not  only  in  exalting 
the  social  rights  of  the  lowly-born,  but  also 
in  conserving  and  developing,  in  too  gentle  a 
race,  the  ideals  of  organised  struggle  and 



resistance.  He  constantly  pointed  out  that 
Mohammedanism  had  its  fourfold  '  castes ' — 
Syyed,  Pathan,  Mogul,  and  Sheikh — and 
that  of  these  the  Sheikhs  had  an  inherited 
right  to  the  Indian  soil  and  the  Indian  me- 
mory, as  ancient  and  indisputable  as  those  of 
any  Hindu.  He,  told  a  disciple,  a propos  of 
an  indiscreetly-written  word,  that  "  Shah 
Jehan  would  have  turned  in  his  grave  to  hear 
himself  called  a  '  foreigner. ' '  And  finally, 
his  highest  prayer  for  the  good  of  the  Mo- 
therland was  that  she  might  make  manifest 
the  twofold  ideal  of  "an  Islamic  body  and 
a  Vedantic  heart." 

Thus — far  aloof  as  he  stood  from  the 
political  significance  of  such  facts, — India,  to 
Vivekananda's  thinking,  was  a  unity,  and  a 
unity  still  more  deeply  to  be  apprehended 
of  the  heart  than  of  the  mind.  His  work  in 
the  world,  as  he  saw  it,  was  the  sowing 
broadcast  of  the  message  of  his  own  Master. 
But  his  personal  struggles,  his  personal 



desires,  were  bound  up  in  an  inextinguishable 
passion  for  his  country's  good.  He  never 
proclaimed  nationality,  but  he  was  himself 
the  living  embodiment  of  that  idea  which  the 
word  conveys.  He,  our  Master,  incarnates 
for  us  in  his  own  person,  that  great  mutual 
love  which  is  the  Indian  national  ideal. 

Nothing  was  less  in  his  mind,  be  it 
understood,  than  a  mere  revival  or  res- 
toration of  the  Indian  past.  It  was  to- 
those  who  sought  to  bring  this  about  that  he 
had  referred,  when  he  said  "Like  the  Egypto- 
logist's interest  in  Egypt,  their  interest  in 
India  is  a  purely  selfish  one.  They  would 
fain  see  again  that  India  of  their  books, 
their  studies,  and  their  dreams."  What 
he  himself  wanted  was  to  see  the  strength  of 
that  old  India  finding  new  application  and 
undreamt-of  expression,  in  the  new  age. 
He  longed  to  see  "a  dynamic  religion." 
Why  should  one  select  out  all  the  elements 
of  meanness  and  decadence  and  reaction,  and 



call  them  'Orthodox'  ?  Orthodoxy  was  a  term 
too  grand,  too  strong,  too  vital,  for  any  such 
use.  It  would  be  rightly  applied  only  to 
that  home  where  all  the  men  were  Pandava 
heroes,  and  all  the  women  had  the  greatness 
of  Sita  or  the  fearlessness  of  Savitri.  He 
stood  aloof  from  all  special  questions,  whether 
of  conservatism  or  reform ;  not  because 
he  sympathised  with  one  party  more  or  less 
than  with  the  other,  but  because  he  saw 
that  for  both  alike  the  real  question  was  the 
recapture  of  the  ideal,  and  its  indentification 
with  India.  On  behalf  of  Woman  and  the 
People,  alike,  he  held  that  the  duty  required 
of  us  was  not  to  change  institutions,  but 
to  put  these  in  a  position  to  solve  their 
own  problems. 

At  least  equal  to  this  dislike  of  ignorance 
was  his  horror  of  the  identification  of  India 
with  what  is  known  as  Occultism.  He  had 
the  natural  interest  and  curiosity  of  educated 
persons,  and  would  at  any  time  have  been 


glad  to  undergo  inconvenience,  in  order 
to  put  to  the  test  alleged  cases  of  walking 
on  water,  handling  fire,  and  so  on.  We  all 
know,  however,  that  evidence  regarding  such 
matters  is  apt  to  vanish  into  the  merest 
hearsay,  when  followed  up.  And  in  any 
case,  such  occurrences  would  have  had  no 
significance  for  him,  beyond  pointing  the 
simple  moral  that  our  present  classification  of 
phenomena  was  incomplete,  and  must  be 
revised,  to  include  some  unfamiliar  possi- 
bilities. They  would  have  had  no  super- 
natural character  whatsoever.  Few  things 
in  the  life  of  Buddha  moved  him  so  deeply 
as  the  tale  of  the  unfrocking  of  the  monk 
who  had  worked  a  miracle.  And  he  said  of 
the  Figure  that  moves  through  the  Christian 
Gospels  that  its  perfection  would  have  seem- 
ed to  him  greater,  had  there  been  a  refusal 
to  gain  credence  by  the  "doing  of  mighty 
works."  In  this  matter,  it  is  probably  true 
as  I  have  heard  it  pointed  out,  in  later 



years,  by  the  Swami  Sadananda,  that  there 
is  a  temperamental,  as  well  as  intellectual, 
divergence  between  Eastern  and  Western 
Asia,  the  one  always  despising,  and  the 
other  seeking  for  "a  sign.  "  In  this  respect, 
according  to  Sadananda,  the  Mongolian  and 
Semitic  conceptions  are  sharply  opposed ; 
while  the  Aryan  stands  between,  weighing 
the  two.  However  this  may  be,  it  will  be 
admitted  by  many  of  us  that  the  modern 
interest  in  so-called  occult  phenomena  has 
been  largely  instrumental  in  creating  a 
mischievous  idea  that  the  Oriental  is  a  being 
of  mysterious  nature,  remote  from  the 
ordinary  motives  of  mankind,  and  charged 
with  secret  batteries  of  supernatural  powers. 
All  this  was  hateful  to  the  Swami.  He 
desired  to  see  it  understood  that  India  was 
peopled  with  human  beings,  who  have 
indeed  an  intensely  individual  character,  and 
a  distinctive  culture,  but  who  are  in  all 
respects  men  amongst  men,  with  all  the 



duties,     claims,    and    emotions    of    common- 

He,  indeed,  had  the  generosity  to  extend 
to  the  West,  the  same  gospel  that  the 
I  ndian  sages  had  preached  in  the  past  to  the 
Indian  people — the  doctrine  of  the  Divinity 
in  man,  to  be  realised  by  faithful  service, 
through  whatever  forms.  The  life  of 
externals,  with  its  concentration  of  interest 
in  sense-impressions,  was,  according  to  him, 
a  mere  hypotism,  a  dream,  of  no  exalted 
character.  And  for  Western,  as  for  Eastern, 
the  soul's  quest  was  the  breaking  of  this 
dream,  the  awakening  to  a  more  profound 
and  powerful  reality.  He  was  for  ever  find- 
ing new  ways  to  express  his  belief  that  all 
men  alike  had  the  same  vast  potentiality. 
"Yes !  my  own  life  is  guided  by  the  enthu- 
siasm of  a  certain  great  Personality,"  he  said 
once,  "but  what  of  that  ?  Inspiration  was 
never  filtered  out  to  the  world  through  one 
man !" 


Again  he  said.  "It  is  true  that  I  believe 
Ramakrisna  Paramahamsa  to  have  been 
inspired.  But  then  I  am  myself  inspired 
also.  And  you  are  inspired.  And  your 
disciples  will  be  ;  and  theirs  after  them ;  and 
so  on,  to  the  end  of  time  ! 

And  on  another  occasion,  to  one  who- 
questioned  him  about  the  old  rule  of  the 
teachers,  that  truth  should  be  taught  only  to- 
those  of  proved  and  tested  fitness,  he  ex- 
claimed impatiently,  "Don't  you  see  that  the 
age  for  esoteric  interpretations  is  over  ?  For 
good  or  for  ill,  that  day  is  vanished,  never  to- 
return.  Truth,  in  the  future,  is  to  be  open 
to  the  world !" 

He  would  speak,  with  whimsical  amuse- 
ment, of  attempts  to  offer  to  India  religious 
ideas  and  organisations  which  were  European 
-led,  as  a  culminating  effort  in  the  long 
attempt  to  exploit  one  race  for  the  good  of 
another.  But  he  never  took  such  European 
leading  seriously,  in  matters  of  religion. 



Finally,  there  was  no  event  in  the  history 
of  his  own  people  to  which  he  returned  more 
constantly  than  the  great  Charge  of  Asoka 
to  his  missionaries,  in  the  third  century  be- 
fore Christ.  "Remember  "  said  the  mighty 
Emperor  to  those  who  were  to  carry  the  Law 
to  various  countries,  "Remember  that  every 
where  you  will  find  some  root  of  faith  and 
righteousness.  See  that  you  foster  this,  and 
do  not  destroy  !  "  Asoka  had  thus  dreamt 
of  the  whole  world,  as  federated  by  ideas, — 
ideas  everywhere  guided  and  permeated  by 
the  striving  towards  absolute  truth  and  per- 
fection of  conduct.  But  this  dream  of  Asoka 
had  had  to  contend  with  ancient  difficulties  of 
communication  and  transport,  with  half- 
known  continents  and  vast  diversity  of  races. 
The  preliminary  steps,  therefore,  in  his  world- 
federation,  would  necessarily  take  so  long 
that  the  primal  impulse  of  faith  and  energy 
might  in  the  meantime  be  forgotten.  It  must 
have  been  from  the  consideration  of  this 



question  that  the  Swami  one  day  looked  up, — 
as  we  all  entered  the  mountain-pass  that  lies 
beyond  the  village  of  Kathgodam, — and 
exclaimed,  breaking  a  long  reverie,  "Yes! 
The  idea  of  the  Buddhists  was  one  for 
which  only  the  modern  world  is  ready ! 
None  before  us  has  had  the  opportunity  of 
its  realisation  ! " 




Chief  of  intellectual  passions  with  the 
Swami,  was  his  reverence  for  Buddha. 
It  was  perhaps  the  historical  authenticity  of 
this  Indian  life  that  was  the  basis  of  the 
delight  it  roused  in  him.  "We  are  sure  of 
Buddha  and  Mohammed,  alone  amongst 
religious  teachers,"  he  was  wont  to  say,  "for 
they  alone  had  the  good  fortune  to  possess 
enemies  as  well  as  friends!"  Again  and  again 
he  would  return  upon  the  note  of  perfect 
rationality  in  his  hero.  Buddha  was  to  him 
not  only  the  greatest  of  Aryans,  but  also  "the 
one  absolutely  sane  man"  that  the  world  had 
ever  seen.  How  he  had  refused  worship! 
Yet  he  drew  no  attention  to  the  fact  that 
it  had  been  offered.  '  Buddha, '  he  said,  'was 



not  a  man,  but  a   realisation.    Enter,    all  ye 
into  it !    Here  receive  the  key  !' 

He  had  been  so  untouched  by  the  vulgar 
craving  for  wonders,  that  he  coldly  ex- 
communicated the  lad  who  had  by  a  word 
brought  down  a  jewelled  cup  from  the  top  of 
a  pole,  in  the  presence  of  the  crowd.  Religion 
he  said,  had  nothing  to  do  with  jugglery  ! 

How  vast  had  been  the  freedom  and 
humility  of  the  Blessed  One  !  He  attended 
the  banquet  of  Ambapali  the  courtesan. 
Knowing  that  it  would  kill  him,  but  desiring 
that  his  last  act  should  be  one  of  communion 
with  the  lowly,  he  received  the  food  of  the 
pariah,  and  afterwards  sent  a  courteous 
message  to  his  host,  thanking  him  for  the 
Great  Deliverance.  How  calm  !  How  mas- 
culine !  Verily  was  he  the  bull  in  the  herd 
and  a  moon  amongst  men  ! 

And  perfect  as  he  was  in  reason,  he  was 
at  least  as  wondrous  in  compassion.  To 
save  the  goats  at  Rajgir,  he  would  have  given 



his  life.  He  had  once  offered  himself  up, 
to  stay  the  hunger  of  a  tigress.  Out  of  five 
hundred  lives  renounced  for  others,  had  been 
distilled  the  pity  that  had  made  him  Buddha. 

There  comes  to  us  a  touch  of  his  humour 
across  the  ages  when  he  tells  the  tale  of 
the  youth,  sobbing  out  his  love  for  one  he 
has  nev^r  seen,  whose  very  name  he  does 
not  know,  and  likens  his  plight  to  the 
iterations  of  humanity  about  God.  He  alone 
was  able  to  free  religion  entirely  from  the 
argument  of  the  supernatural,  and  yet  make 
it  as  binding  in  its  force,  and  as  living  in  its 
appeal,  as  it  had  ever  been.  This  was  done 
by  the  power  of  his  own  great  personality, 
and  the  impress  it  made  on  the  men  of  his 
own  generation. 

For  some  of  us,  one  evening,  the  Swami 
sat  reconstructing  the  story,  as  it  must  have 
appeared  to  Jasodhara,  the  wife  of  Buddha, 
and  never  have  I  heard  the  dry  bones  of 
history  clothed  with  such  fulness  or  con- 



vincingness  of  life.  Hindu  monk  as  he  him- 
self was,  it  seemed  to  Vivekananda  natural 
enough  that  a  strong  personality  should  have 
what  he  conveniently  described  as"European 
ideas  about  marriage,"  and  should  insist,  as 
did  Buddha,  on  seeing  and  choosing  his 
bride  for  himself.  Each  detail  of  the  week 
of  festivities  and  betrothal  was  dwelt  on 
tenderly.  Then  came  the  picture  of  the  two, 
long  wedded,  and  the  great  night  of  farewell. 
The  gods  sang,  "Awake !  thou  that  art 
awakened  !  Arise  !  and  help  the  world  !  " 
and  the  struggling  prince  returned  again  and 
again  to  the  bedside  of  his  sleeping  wife. 
"What  was  the  problem  that  vexed  him  ? 
Why !  It  was  she  whom  he  was  about  to 
sacrifice  for  the  world  !  That  was  the 
struggle  !  He  cared  nothing  for  himself!  " 

Then  the  victory,  with  its  inevitable  fare- 
well, and  the  kiss,  imprinted  so  gently  on 
the  foot  of  the  princess  that  she  never  woke. 
"Have  you  never  thought,  "  said  the  Swami, 



"of  the  hearts  of  the  heroes  ?  How  they  were 
great,  great,  great,  and  soft  as  butter  ?  " 

It  was  seven  years  later,  when  the  prince, 
now  Buddha,  returned  to  Kapilavastu,  where 
Jasodhara  had  lived, — clad  in  the  yellow 
cloth,  eating  only  roots  and  fruits,  sleeping  in 
no  bed,  under  no  roof, — from  the  day  he 
had  left  her,  sharing  the  religious  life  also,  in 
her  woman's  way,  And  he  entered,  and  she 
took  the  hem  of  his  garment,  "as  a  wife 
should  do,  "  while  he  told,  to  her  and  to  his 
son,  the  Truth. 

But  when  he  had  ended,  and  would  have 
departed  to  his  garden,  she  turned,  startled, 
to  her  son,  and  said  "Quick !  go  and  ask  your 
father  for  your  patrimony  !  " 

And  when  the  child  asked  "Mother, 
which  is  my  father  ?"  She  disdained  to  give 
any  answer,  save  "  The  lion  that  passes  down 
the  street,  lo,  he  is  thy  father  !  " 

And  the  lad,  heir  of  the  Sakya  line,  went, 
saying  "Father,  give  me  my  inheritance !  " 



Three  times  he  had  to  ask,  before  Bud- 
dha, turning  to  Ananda,  said  "  Give  it !  "  and 
the  gerrua  cloth  was  thrown  over  the  child. 

Then,  seeing  Jasodhara,  and  realising 
that  she,  too,  longed  to  be  near  her  husband, 
the  chief  disciple  said  "May  women  enter 
the  Order  ?  Shall  we  give  to  her  also  the 
yellow  cloth  ?  " 

And  Buddha  said  "Can  there  be  sex  in 
knowledge  ?  Have  I  ever  said  that  a  woman 
could  not  enter  ?  But  this,  O  Ananda,  was 
for  thee  to  ask !  " 

Thus  Jasodhara  also  became  a  disciple. 
And  then  all  the  pent-up  love  and  pity  of 
those  seven  years,  welled  forth  in  the  Jataka 
Birth-stories !  For  they  were  all  for  her ! 
Five  hundred  times  each  had  forgotten  self. 
And  now  they  would  enter  into  perfection 

" Yes,  yes,  so  it  was  !  For  Jasodhara 

and  for  Sita,  a  hundred  years  would  not 
have  been  enough  to  try  their  faith  ! ." 



"No!  No!"  mused  the  teller,  after  a 
pause,  as  he  ended  the  tale,  "  Let  us  all  own 
that  we  have  passions  still !  Let  each  one 
say  '/am  not  the  ideal  !  "Let  none  ever  ven- 
ture to  compare  another  with  Him  !  " 

During  the  years  of  our  Master's  boy- 
hood at  Dakshineshwar,  the  attention  of  the 
world  had  been  much  concentrated  on  the 
story  of  Buddhism.  The  restoration  of  the 
great  shrine  of  Bodh-Gaya  was  carried  out 
about  this  time*  under  the  orders  of  the 
English  Government,  and  the  share  taken 
in  this  work  by  Rajendra  Lala  Mitra,  the 
Bengali  scholar,  kept  Indian  interest  intense 
throughout  the  country.  In  1879,  moreover, 
the  imagination  even  of  the  unlearned  classes 
in  English-speaking  countries  was  deeply 
stirred,  by  the  appearance  of  Sir  Edwin 
Arnold's  "  Light  of  Asia,"  said  to  be  in 
many  parts  an  almost  literal  translation 

*  The  excavations  round  the  great  shrine  were  first  commenced 
by  the  Burmese  Government  in  1874.  The  British  Government  took 
them  in  hand  in  1879  and  completed  the  work  in  1884. 



from  the  'Buddha  Charita'  of  Ashwa  Ghosh. 
But  the  Swami  was  never  satisfied  with  tak- 
ing things  at  second-hand,  and  in  this  too  could 
not  rest  contented  until  in  1887  he,  with  his 
brethren,  contrived  to  read  together,  not  only 
the  '  Lalita  Vistara,'  but  also  the  great 
book  of  the  Mahajana  school  of  Buddhism, 
the  'Prajna  Paramita,'f  in  theorginal.J  Their 
knowledge  of  Sanskrit  was  their  key  to 
the  understanding  of  the  daughter-language. 
The  study  of  Dr.  Rajendra  Lala  Mitra's 
writings  and  of  the  '  Light  of  Asia,'  could 
never  be  a  mere  passing  event  in  the 
Swami's  life,  and  the  seed  that  thus  fell  on 
the  sensitive  mind  of  Sri  Ramakrishna's 
chief  disciple,  during  the  years  of  his  dis- 
cipleship,  came  to  blossom  the  moment  he 

t  Lit.  That  which  leads  one  beyond  intellect — to  the  realms  of 

J  These  two  books  were  then  being  published  by  the  Asiatic 
Society,  under  the  able  editing  of  Dr.  Rajendra  Lala  Mitra.  The 
original  text  appeared  in  Sanskrit  characters  and  not  in  Pali, 
to  help  the  general  reader,  who  is  familiar  with  the  former  but  not 
with  the  latter. — Saradananda. 



was  initiated  into  sannyas,  for  his  first  act 
then  was  to  hurry  to  Bodh-Gaya,  and  sit 
under  the  great  tree,  saying  to  himself  '  Is  it 
possible  that  I  breathe  the  air  He  breathed  ? 
That  I  touch  the  earth  He  trod  ?  ' 

At  the  end  of  his  life  again,  similarly,  he 
arrived  at  Bodh-Gaya,  on  the  morning  of  his 
thirty-ninth  birthday  ;  and  this  journey, 
ending  with  a  visit  to  Benares,  was  the  last 
he  ever  made. 

At  some  time  in  the  years  of  his  Indian 
wanderings,  the  Swami  was  allowed  to  touch 
the  relics  of  Buddha,  probably  near  the  place 
where  they  were  first  discovered.  And  he 
was  never  afterwards  able  to  refer  to  this, 
without  some  return  of  that  passion  of  re- 
verence and  certitude  which  must  then  have 
overwhelmed  him.  Well  might  he  exclaim, 
to  someone  who  questioned  him  about  the 
personal  worship  of  the  Avatars,  "In  truth, 
Madam,  had  I  lived  in  Judaea  in  the  days  of 
Jesus  of  Nazareth,  I  would  have  washed  His 



feet,   not  with  my  tears,  but  with  my  heart's 
blood  !" 

"A  Buddhist !"  he  said,  to  one  who  made 
a  mistake  about  the  name  of  his  faith,  "I  am 
the  servant  of  the  servants  of  the  servants 
of  Buddha  !  "  as  if  even  the  title  of  a  believer 
would  seem,  to  his  veneration,  too  exalted 
to  claim. 

But  it  was  not  only  the  historic  authenti- 
city of  the  personality  of  Buddha  that  held 
him  spell-bound.  Another  factor,  at  least  as 
powerful,  was  the  spectacle  of  the  constant 
tallying  of  his  own  Master's  life,  lived  before 
his  eyes,  with  this  world-attested  story  of 
twenty-five  centuries  before.  In  Buddha,  he 
saw  Ramakrishna  Paramahamsa  :  in  Rama- 
krishna,  he  saw  Buddha. 

In  a  flash  this  train  of  thought  was 
revealed,  one  day  when  he  was  describing 
the  scene  of  the  death  of  Buddha.  He  told 
how  the  blanket  had  been  spread  for  him 
beneath  the  tree,  and  how  the  Blessed  One 



had  lain  down,  "resting  on  his  right  side,  like 
a  lion,"  to  die,  when  suddenly  there  came 
to  him  one  who  ran,  for  instruction.  The 
disciples  would  have  treated  the  man  as  an 
intruder,  maintaining  peace  at  any  cost 
about  their  Master's  death-bed,  but  the 
Blessed  One  overheard,  and  saying  "No,  no! 
He  who  was  sent  \  is  ever  ready,  "  he  raised 
himself  on  his  elbow,  and  taught.  This 
happened  four  times,  and  then,  and  then  only, 
Buddha  held  himself  free  to  die.  "But  first 
he  spoke  to  reprove  Ananda  for  weeping. 
The  Buddha  was  not  a  person,  he  said,  but 
a  realisation,  and  to  that,  anyone  of  them 
might  attain.  And  with  his  last  breath  he 
forbade  them  to  worship  any." 

The  immortal  story  went  on  to  its  end. 
But  to  one  who  listened,  the  most  significant 
moment  had  been  that  in  which  the  teller 
paused, — at  his  own  words  "  raised  himself 

J  Lit.     The    Tathagatha,  "A  word,"  explained  the  Swami, 
"  which  is  very  like  your  '  Messiah.'" 



on  his  elbow  and  taught," — and  said,  in  brief 
parenthesis,  "/saw  this,  you  know,  in  the 
case  of  Ramakrishna  Paramahamsa  ! "  And 
there  rose  before  the  mind  the  story  of  one, 
destined  to  learn  from  that  Teacher,  who  had 
travelled  a  hundred  miles,  and  arrived  at 
Cossiporef  only  when  he  lay  dying.  Here 
also  the  disciples  would  have  refused 
admission,  but  Sri  Ramakrishna  intervened, 
insisting  on  receiving  the  new-comer,  and 
teaching  him. 

The  Swami  was  always  deeply  pre-occu- 
pied  with  the  historic  and  philosophic  signi- 
ficance of  Buddhistic  doctrine.  Sudden  re- 
ferences and  abrupt  allusions  would  show 
that  his  thoughts  were  constantly  with  it. 
" '  Form,  feeling,  sensation,  motion,  and 
knowledge  are  the  five  categories,' "  he 
quoted  one  day,  from  Buddha's  teachings,* 
"  '  in  perpetual  flux  and  fusion.  And  in  these 

IT    Sri   Ramakrishna  entered  into   Mahasamadhi  at  the  garden- 
house  of  Krishna  Gopal  Ghosh  in  Cossipore,  1 886. 

*  Vide  Vinaya  Pitaka,  Part  I,  Sacred  Books  of  the  East  Series. 



lies  Maya.  Of  anyone  wave,  nothing  can  be 
predicated,  for  it  is  not.  It  but  was,  and  is- 
gone.  Know,  O  Man,  thou  art  the  sea  /'  Ah, 
this  was  Kapila's  philosophy,  "  he  went  on, 
"but  his  great  Disciple  brought  the  heart  to- 
make  it  live  ! " 

And  then,  as  the  accents  of  that  Disciple 
himself  broke  upon  the  inner  ear,  he  paused 
a  moment,   and  fell  back   on  the  deathless 
charge  of  the  Dhammapada  to  the  soul : 
"Go  forward  without  a  path  ! 
Fearing  nothing,  caring  for  nothing, 

Wander  alone,  like  the  rhinoceros  I 
"Even    as   the   lion,    not     trembling   at 


Even  as  the  wind,   not  caught  in  a  net, 
Even  as  the  lotus-leaf,   unstained  by 

the  water,. 
Do  thou  wander  alone, 

like  the  rhinoceros  !  "" 

"Can  you  imagine  what    their  strength 

was  ?"  he  said  one  day,  as  he  dwelt  on  the 



picture  of  the  First  Council,  and  the  dispute 
as  to  the  President.  "One  said  it  should  be 
Ananda,  because  He  had  loved  him  most. 
But  someone  else  stepped  forward,  and  said 
no  !  for  Ananda  had  been  guilty  of  weeping  at 
the  death-bed.  And  so  he  was  passed  over  !  " 
"  But  Buddha,  "  he  went  on,  "  made  the 
fatal  mistake  of  thinking  that  the  whole  world 
could  be  lifted  to  the  height  of  the  Upani- 
shads.  And  self-interest  spoiled  all.  Krishna 
was  wiser,  because  He  was  more  politic.  But 
Buddha  would  have  no  compromise.  The 
world  before  now  has  seen  even  the  Avatar 
ruined  by  compromise,  tortured  to  death  for 
want  of  recognition,  and  lost.  But  Buddha 
would  have  been  worshipped  as  God  in  his 
own  lifetime,  all  over  Asia,  for  a  moment's 
compromise.  And  his  reply  was  only  'Buddha- 
hood  is  an  achievement,  not  a  person !  * 
Verily  was  He  the  only  man  in  the  world 
who  was  ever  quite  sane,  the  only  sane  man 
ever  born  !  " 


Indian  clearness  of  thought  spoke  in  tne 
Swami's      contempt      for      our      Christian 
leaning  towards    the    worship  of   suffering. 
People  had  told  him  in  the  West  that  the 
greatness  of  Buddha  would  have  been  more 
appealing,  had  he  been  crucified !  This   he 
had  no  hesitation  in  stigmatising  as  "Roman 
brutality."     "The   lowest   and   most   animal 
liking,"  he  pointed  out.  "  is  for  action.  There- 
fore  the   world   will   always  love  the  epic. 
Fortunately    for    India,    however,    she    has 
never  produced  a   Milton,    with  his  '  hurled 
headlong  down  the  steep  abyss' !  The  whole  of 
that  were  well  exchanged  for  a    couple   of 
lines   of   Browning !"  It   had  been   this  epic 
vigour   of  the   story,    in    his    opinion,    that 
had  appealed  to  the  Roman.   The  crucifixion 
it  was,  that  had  carried  Christianity  over  the 
Roman   world.    "Yes    Yes!"   he    reiterated, 
"You  Western  folk  want  action  \  You  cannot 
yet  perceive  the  poetry  of  every   common 
little  incident  in  life !  What  beauty  could  be 



greater  than  that  of  the  story  of  the  young 
mother,  coming  to  Buddha  with  her  dead 
boy  ?  Or  the  incident  of  the  goats  ?  You 
see  the  Great  Renunciation  was  not  new  in 
India !  Gautama  was  the  son  of  a  petty 
chieftain.  As  much  had  been  left  many  times 
before.  But  after  Nirvana,  look  at  the  poetry ! 

*  "  It  is  a  wet  night,  and  he  comes  to 
the  cowherd's  hut,  and  gathers  in  to  the  wall 
under  the  dripping  eaves.  The  rain  is  pour- 
ing down,  and  the  wind  rising. 

"Within,  the  cowherd  catches  a  glimpse 
of  a  face,  through  the  window,  and  thinks 
'Ha,  ha  !  Yellow  Garb  !  stay  there  !  It's  good 
enough  for  you!'  And  then  he  begins  to  sing. 

'My  cattle  are  housed,  and  the  fire  burns 
bright.  My  wife  is  safe,  and  my  babes  sleep 
sweet !  Therefore  ye  may  rain,  if  ye  will, 
O  clouds,  to-night !' 

*  The  Swami  was  here  making  a  rough  paraphrase,  from 
memory,  of  Rhys  David's  metrical  rendering  of  the  Dhaniya  Smtta, 
from  the  Sutta  Nipata,  in  Fausboll's  translation  of  the  Dhammapada. 
See  Rhys  Davids'  American  Lectures. 



"And  the  Buddha  answers  from  without, 
"My  mind  is  controlled.  My  senses  are  all 
gathered  in.  My  heart  is  firm.  Therefore  ye 
may  rain,  if  ye  will,  O  clouds,  to-night !' 

"Again  the  cowherd — 'The  fields  are 
reaped,  and  the  hay  is  all  fast  in  the  barn. 
The  stream  is  full,  and,  the  roads  are  firm. 
Therefore  ye  may  rain,  if  ye  will,  O  clouds, 
to-night  ' 

*  'And  so  it  goes  on,  till  at  last  the  cowherd 
rises,  in  contrition  and  wonder,  and  becomes 
a  disciple. 

"Or  what  could  be   more   beautiful  than 
the  Barber's  story  ? 
f '  The  Blessed  One  passed  by  my  house, 

my  house — the  Barber's! 
'  I  ran,  but  He  turned  and  awaited  me. 

Awaited  me — the  Barber  ! 

t  The  original  from  of  this  anecdote,  as  it  appeared  in  the 
Buddhist  texts  in  old  times,  under  the  name  of  Upali  Prichcha  (The 
Questions  of  Upali,  the  Barber)  has  been  lost ;  but  the  fact  that  there 
was  such  a  writing  in  existence,  is  known  form  its  mention  in 
•ther  Buddhist  books  e.  g.  The  Vinaya  Pitaka. 



4  I  said,  'May  I  speak,  O  Lord,  with  thee  ?' 
And  He  said  «  Yes  ! ' 

1  Yes  ! '  to  me — the  Barber ! 
"And  I  said  '  Is  Nirvana  for  such  as  I  ?' 
And  He  said  '  Yes  !' 

Even  for  me — the  Barber ! 
4  And  I   said  'May  I  follow  after  Thee  !' 
And  He  said  'Oh  yes !  ' 

Even  / — the  Barber  ! 

'And  I  said  'May  I  stay,  O  Lord,  near  Thee?' 
And  He  said   'Thou  mayest !' 

Even  to  me — the  poor  Barber  ! ' ' 
He  was  epitomising  the  history  of 
Buddhism  one  day,  with  its  three  cycles — 
five  hundred  years  of  law,  five  hundred  of 
images,  and  five  hundred  of  tantras, — when 
sudddenly  he  broke  off,  to  say,  "You  must 
not  imagine,  that  there  was  ever  a  religion 
in  India  called  Buddhism,  with  temples 
and  priests  of  its  own  order !  Nothing  of  the 
sort !  The  idea  was  always  within  Hinduism. 
Only  the  influence  of  Buddha  was  paramount 



at  one  time,  and  made  the  nation  monastic.  "" 
And  the  truth  of  the  view  so  expressed  can 
only,  as  I  believe,  become  increasingly 
apparent  to  scholars,  with  time  and  study. 
Acccording  to  it,  Buddhism  formed  complete 
churches  only  in  the  circle  of  missionary 
countries,  of  which  Kashmir  was  one. 
And  an  interesting  morsel  of  history  dwelt 
on  by  the  Swami,  was  that  of  the  adop- 
tion of  the  Indian  apostolate  in  that  country, 
with  its  inevitable  deposition  of  the  local 
Nags,  or  mysterious  serpents  living  beneath 
the  springs,  from  their  position  of  deities. 
Strange  to  say,  a  terrible  winter  followed 
their  disestablishment,  and  the  terrified  peo- 
ple hastened  to  make  a  compromise  between 
the  new  truth  and  the  old  superstition,  by  re- 
instating the  Nags  as  saints,  or  minor  divini- 
ties of  the  new  faith, — a  piece  of  human 
nature  not  without  parallels  elsewhere  ! 

One    of    the    great    contrasts    between 
Buddhism  and  the  Mother-church  lies  in  the 



fact  that  the  Hindu  believes  in  the  accumula- 
tion of  Karma  by  a  single  ego,  through  re- 
peated incarnations,  while  Buddhism  teaches 
that  this  seeming  identity  is  but  illusory  and 
impermanent.  It  is  in  truth  another  soul 
which  inherits  what  we  have  amassed  for  it, 
and  proceeds,  out  of  our  experience,  to  the 
sowing  of  fresh  seed.  On  the  merits  of  these 
rival  theories,  the  Swami  would  often  sit  and 
ponder.  By  those  to  whom,  as  to  him,  the 
great  life  of  superconsciousness  has  ever 
opened,  as  also  in  a  lesser  degree  to  those 
who  have  only  dwelt  in  its  shadow,  the  con- 
dition of  the  embodied  spirit  is  seen  as  an 
ever-fretting  limitation.  The  encaged  soul 
beats  wings  of  rebellion  ceaselessly, 
against  the  prisoning  bars  of  the  body,  seeing 
outside  and  beyond  them,  that  existence  of 
pure  ideas,  of  concentrated  emotion,  of 
changeless  bliss  and  unshadowed  light,  which 
is  its  ideal  and  its  goal.  To  these,  then,  the 
body  is  a  veil  and  a  barrier,  instead  of  a 



means  to  mutual  communing.  Pleasure  and 
pain  are  but  the  Primal  Light  seen  through 
the  prism  of  personal  consciousness.  The  one 
longing  is  to  rise  above  them  both,  and  find 
That,  white,  undivided,  radiant.  It  was  this 
train  of  feeling  that  expressed  itself  now  and 
then  in  our  Master's  utterances  of  impatience 
at  current  conceptions,  as  when  he  broke  out 
with  the  words  "Why,  one  life  in  the  body  is 
like  a  million  years  of  confinement,  and  they 
want  to  wake  up  the  memory  of  many  lives  ! 
Sufficient  unto  the  day  is  the  evil  thereof!  " 
Yet  this  question,  of  the  relation  to  one  an- 
other of  the  different  personalities  in  a  single 
long  chain  of  experience,  never  failed  to 
interest  him.  The  doctrine  of  re-incarnation 
was  never  treated  by  him  as  an  article  of 
faith  To  himself  personally,  it  was  'a  scienti- 
fic speculation'  merely,  but  of  a  deeply 
satisfying  kind.  He  would  always  bring  it 
forward,  in  opposition  to  our  Western  educa- 
tional doctrine  that  all  knowledge  begins 



with  the  senses,  pointing  out,  on  his  side,  that 
this  beginning  of  knowledge  is  often  lost  in 
the  remote  past  of  the  given  person.  Yet 
when  all  had  been  said,  the  question  still 
remained  whether  in  the  end  Buddhism  would 
not  be  proved  philosophically  right.  Was 
not  the  whole  notion  of  continuous  identity 
illusory,  to  give  way,  at  the  last,  to  the  final 
perception  that  the  many  were  all  unreal, 
and  the  One  alone  Real  ?  "  Yes !  he  ex- 
claimed one  day,  after  long  thought  in  silence, 
4 'Buddhism  must  be  right!  Re-incarnation  is 
only  a  mirage  !  But  this  vision  is  to  be  reach- 
ed, by  the  path  of  Advaita  alone  !  " 

Perhaps  it  gave  him  pleasure,  thus  to 
play  off  Sankaracharya  against  Buddha,  as  it 
were,  by  calling  in  Advaita  to  the  aid  of 
Buddhism.  Perhaps  it  was  the  unification  of 
history  involved,  that  so  delighted  him  ;  since 
the  one  idea  was  thus  shown  to  be  imperfect, 
apart  from  the  other.  "  The  heart  of  Buddha 
.and  the  intellect  of  Sankaracharya  "  was  al- 



ways  his  definition  of  the  highest  possibility 
of  humanity.  In  this  vein  was  the  attention 
he  gave  to  the  argument  of  a  certain  Western 
woman,  against  the  Buddhistic  view  of  karma. 
The  extraordinary  sense  of  social  responsibil- 
ity involved  in  that  rendering,  *  had  escaped 
this  particular  mind.  "  I  find,  "  she  said,  "no^ 
motive  for  doing  good  deeds,  of  which 
someone  else,  and  not  I,  will  reap  the  fruit !" 

The  Swami,  who  was  himself  quite  incap- 
able of  thinking  in  this  way,  was  greatly 
struck  by  the  remark,  and  a  day  or  two 
later  said  to  someone  near  him-"That  was  a 
very  impressive  point  that  was  made  the 
other  day,  that  there  can  be  no  reason  for 
doing  good  to  people,  if  not  they,  but  others, 
are  to  gather  the  fruit  of  our  efforts  !" 

"But  that  was  not  the  argument !  "  un- 

*  There  is  surely  a  sense  in'  which  the  motive  for  doing  right  is 
much  strenghened  if  we  are  to  feel  that  another,  and  not  oneself, 
will  bear  the  punishment  for  our  sin.  We  may  compare  with  this 
our  own  sense  of  responsiblity  for  the  property,  children,  or  honour 
of  another. 



graciously  answered  the  person  addressed. 
"The  point  was  that  someone  else  than  my 
self  would  reap  the  merit  of  my  deed  !" 

"I  know,  I  know,  "  he  replied  quietly, 
<(but  our  friend  would  have  done  greater 
justice  to  her  own  idea,  if  she  had  put  it  in 
this  other  way.  Let  us  suppose  it  to  stand, 
that  we  are  deceived  in  doing  service  to 
those  who  can  never  receive  that  service. 
Don't  you  see  that  there  is  but  one  reply — 
the  theory  of  Advaita  ?  For  we  are  all  one  !" 

Had  he  realised  that  the  distinction  be- 
tween the  mediaeval  and  modern  Hindu 
minds  lay  precisely  here,  that  in  the  modern 
idea  of  India  there  would  always  be  a  place 
accorded  to  Buddhism  and  Buddha  ?  Had  he 
told  himself  that  the  Mahabharata  and  Ra- 
mayana,  which  had  dominated  Indian  edu- 
cation since  the  Guptas,  were  henceforth  to  be 
supplemented,  in  the  popular  mind,  by  the 
history  of  the  Asokan  and  Pre-Asokan 
periods  ?  Had  he  thought  of  the  vast  signi- 


ficance  to  Asia  of  such  a  generalisation,  of 
the  new  life  to  be  poured  from  Hinduism  into- 
the  veins  of  Buddhist  countries,  and  of  the 
vigour  and  strength  to  be  gained  by  India 
herself,  from  the  self-recognition  of  the 
Mother-church,  feeding  with  knowledge  the 
daughter-nations  ?  However  this  be,  we 
must  never  forget  that  it  was  in  Hinduism 
that  he  saw  the  keystone  of  the  arch  of  the 
two  faiths.  It  was  this  mother,  and 
not  her  daughter,  that  he  found  all-inclusive. 
Great  and  beloved  Mother-church  as  she  is, 
she  has  room  to  all  time  for  the  glorious- 
form  of  the  first  and  most  lion-hearted  of  all 
her  Avatars.  She  has  place  for  his  orders  ; 
understanding  and  reverence  for  his  teach- 
ings ;  mother-love  for  his  flock  ;  and  sympathy 
and  welcome  for  the  young  he  brought  to 
her.  But  never  will  she  say  that  truth  is  con- 
fined to  his  presentment ;  that  salvation  is 
only  to  be  found  through  the  monastic  rule 
that  the  path  to  perfection  is  one  and  one  alone. 



That  was  perhaps  the  greatest  of  the  Swami 
Vivekananda's  pronouncements  on  Buddh- 
ism, in  which  he  said  :  "The  great  point  of  < 
contrast  between  Buddhism  and  Hinduism 
lies  in  the  fact  that  Buddhism  said  'Realise  all  ^= 
this  as  illusion,  '  while  Hinduism  said  '  Real-  <_ 
ise  that  within  the  illusion  is  the  Real.'  Of 
Aowthis  was  to  be  done,  Hinduism  never 
presumed  to  enunciate  any  rigid  law.  The 
Buddhist  command  could  only  be  carried  out 
through  monasticism  ;  the  Hindu  might  be 
fulfilled  through  any  state  of  life.  All  alike 
were  roads  to  the  One  Real.  One  of  the 
highest  and  greatest  expressions  of  the  Faith 
is  put  into  the  month  of  a  butcher,  preaching, 
by  the  orders  of  a  married  woman,  to  a 
sannyasin.  Thus  Buddhism  became  the  re- 
ligion of  a  monastic  order,  but  Hinduism, 
in  spite  of  its  exaltation  of  monasticism, 
remains  ever  the  religion  of  faithfulness  to 
daily  duty,  whatever  it  be,  as  the  path  by 
which  man  may  attain  to  God.  " 




Some  of  the  deepest  convictions  of  our 
lives  are  gathered  from  data  which,  in  their 
very  nature,  can  influence  no  one  but  our- 
selves. The  instantaneous  estimate  of  a 
motive  or  a  personality,  for  instance,  cannot 
be  communicated,  in  its  vividness,  to  any 
other,  yet  remains  irresistible  to  the  mind 
that  makes  it.  It  may  be  either  true  or 
false,  that  is  to  say,  it  may  be  based  on  a 
subtle  species  of  observation,  possible  only 
to  a  few ;  or  it  may  be  only  a  vagrant 
impulse  of  emotion.  Be  this  as  it  may,  the 
strong  subjective  impression  will  colour 
much  of  the  subsequent  thought  of  him 
who  has  experienced  it,  and  will  appear  to 
others  as  wisdom  or  caprice,  according  to 
its  good  or  ill-luck,  in  coinciding  with  fact. 



In  the  same  way,  if,  for  the  sake  of  the 
arguement,  we  grant  the  truth  of  the  theory 
of  re-incarnation,  it  immediately  becomes 
conceivable  that  some  minds  may  enjoy 
occasional  access  within  themselves  to  stores 
of  sub-conscious  memory,  in  which  others 
have  no  share.  If  so,  it  is  just  possible  that 
the  results  of  such  an  excursus  might  furnish 
clues  of  some  value,  even  though  the  differ- 
ence between  it  and  pure  imagination  could 
only  be  appreciated  by  the  exploring  mind 

Some  such  train  of  thought  is  necessary, 
if  one  is  to  visualise  no  less  than  three 
striking  subjective  experiences,  which  exert- 
ed an  undoubted  influence  over  my  Master's 
mind  and  thought.  Chief  of  these  probably, 
was  that  vision  of  an  old  man  on  the  banks 
of  the  Indus,  chanting  Vedic  riks,  from 
which  he  had  learnt  his  own  peculiar 
method  of  intoning  Sanskrit — a  method 
much  closer  to  that  of  Gregorian  plainsong 



than  is  the  ordinary  singing  of  the  Vedas.  In 
this,  he  always  believed  himself  to  have 
recovered  the  musical  cadences  of  the  Aryan 
ancestors.  He  found  something  remarkably 
sympathetic  to  this  mode  in  the  poetry  of 
Sankaracharya,  and  this  fact  he  expressed, 
by  saying  that  that  master  must  have  had 
a  vision  like  his  own,  in  which  he  had 
caught  "the  rhythm  of  the  Vedas."  * 

Another  similar  experience  had  come  to 
him,  when  he  was  quite  young.  It  was  in  the 
days  of  his  discipleship  at  Dukhineswar. 
He  was  seated  at  home,  in  the  little  room 
that  formed  his  study,  meditating,  when 

*  The  Swami  Saradananda  says  that  this  vision  occurred  about 
two  years  after  Sri  Ramakrishna  had  passed  away,  probably  in  January 
1888.  The  passage  which  he  heard  was  that  Salutation  to  Gayatri 
which  begins  "O  come,  Thou  Eflulgent  !  " 

It  is  a  great  happiness  to  know  that  the  Swami  Abhedanands 
has  learnt  and  can  reproduce  this  Sanskrit  intoning,  of  the  Swami 



suddenly  there  appeared  before  him  a  man 
tall  and  largely  built,  in  whose  face  was  a 
calm  so  deep  and  so  established,  that  it 
seemed  to  the  lad,  looking  up  at  him,  as  if 
both  pain  and  pleasure  had  been  forgotten 
during  infinite  time.  The  devotee  rose  from  his 
seat,  and  prostrated  himself  before  his  visitant^ 
then  he  stood  still,  lost  in  an  awestruck  gaze. 
Suddenly  it  seemed  as  if  the  form  before 
him  were  about  to  speak.  But  at  this,  a  fit 
of  terror  overcame  the  boy,  and  without 
waiting  to  hear,  he  slipped  quietly  out  of  the 
room,  and  closed  the  door  behind  him  f 
This  was  the  vision  to  which  he  had  referred, 
when  he  spoke  of  the  entrance  of  Buddha 
into  his  room,  in  his  youth.  "And  I  fell  at 
his  feet,  for  I  knew  it  was  the  Lord  Him- 
self." Nor  would  it  be  easy  to  measure 
how  much  of  the  throbbing  energy  of  his 
feeling  about  Buddha, — the  conviction  of 
his  overwhelming  'sanity,'  the  realisation 
of  his  infinite  sacrifice  and  compassion, — 



was  born  of  that  hour  in  his  boyhood,  when 
he  had  felt  that  He  stood  revealed  before 

The  third  and  last  of  these  determining 
visions, — in  so  far,  at  least,  as  is  known  to 
those  about  him — occurred  to  the  Swami  on 
his  way  home  to  India,  in  January  of  the 
year  1897.  One  gathers  that  during  his 
travels  in  Catholic  Europe,  he  had  been 
startled,  like  others  before  him,  to  find  the 
identity  of  Christianity  with  Hinduism  in 
a  thousand  points  of  familiar  detail.  The 
Blessed  Sacrament  appeared  to  him  to  be 
only  an  elaboration  of  the  Vedic  prasadum. 
The  priestly  tonsure  reminded  him  of  the 
shaven  head  of  the  Indian  monk  ;  and  when 
he  came  across  a  picture  of  Justinian  receiv- 
ing the  Law  from  two  shaven  monks,  he 
felt  that  he  had  found  the  origin  of  the 
tonsure.  He  could  not  but  remember  that 
even  before  Buddhism,  India  had  had  monks 
and  nuns,  and  that  Europe  had  taken  her 



orders  from  the  Thebaid.  Hindu  ritual  had  its- 
lights,  its  incense,  and  its  music.  Even  the 
sign  of  the  cross,  as  he  saw  it  practised^ 
reminded  him  of  the  touching  of  different 
parts  of  the  body,  in  certain  kinds  of 
meditation.  And  the  culmination  of  this  series- 
of  observations  was  reached,  when  he 
entered  some  cathedral,  and  found  it 
furnished  with  an  insufficient  number  of 
chairs,  and  no  pews !  Then,  at  last,  he  was 
really  at  home.  Henceforth  he  could  not 
believe  t  hat  Christianity  was  foreign. 

Another  train  of  thought  that  may  have 
prepared  him,  unconsciously,  for  the  dream 
I  am  about  to  recount,  lay  in  the  fact  that 
he  had,  in  America,  had  a  Jewish  disciple, 
by  whom  he  had  been  introduced  inta 
orthodox  Jewish  society,  and  led  to  the 
more  or  less  careful  study  of  the  Talmud. 
Thus  he  had  a  clearer  sense  of  the  back- 
ground of  thought,  against  which  S.  Paul 
stood  forth,  than  is  at  all  common. 



Still  an  added  factor  in  his  study  of 
Christianity,  that  is  worth  remembering,  was 
his  familiarity,  in  America,  with  the  move- 
ment known  as  Christian  Science.  In  examin- 
ing the  birth  of  religions,  he  said  once, 
afterwards,  that  there  were  three  elements  of 
which  he  thought  we  must  always  take 
account, — doctrine,  ritual,  and  a  third,  of 
the  nature  of  magic,  or  miracle,  which  most 
commonly  appeared  as  a  movement  of 
healing.  The  grounds  for  his  inclusion  of 
the  last  member  of  this  triad,  I  find  partly 
in  his  observation  of  Christian  Science  and 
the  allied  movements, — coupled  as  this  would 
be  with  his  own  conviction  that  we  are 
now  on  the  eve  of  a  great  new  synthesis  in 
religion — and  partly  in  his  vision  itself, 
which  was  stamped  so  vividly  on  his  brain- 
fibre  as  to  stand  in  his  memory  amongst 
actual  living  experiences. 

It  was  night,  and  the  ship  on  which  he 
had  embarked  at  Naples,  was  still  on  her 



way  to  Port  Said,  when  he  had  this  dream. 
An  old  and  bearded  man  appeared  before 
him,  saying  "  Observe  well  this  place  that 
I  show  to  you.  You  are  now  in  the  island 
of  Crete.  This  is  the  land  in  which  Chris- 
tianity began."  In  support  of  this  origin  of 
Christianity,  the  speaker  gave  two  words — 
one  of  which  was  Therapeutce — and  showed 
both  to  be  derived  direct  from  Sanskrit 
roots.  The  Swami  frequently  spoke  of  this 
dream  in  after  years,  and  always  gave  the 
two  etymologies ;  but  the  other  seems* 
nevertheless,  to  be  lost,  beyond  recovery. 
Of  therapeutce ,  the  meaning  advanced  was, 
sons  of  the  theras,  from  thera,  an  elder 
amongst  the  Buddhist  monks,  and  putra, 
the  Sanskrit  word  for  son.  "  The  proofs 
are  all  here,"  added  the  old  man,  pointing 
to  the  ground,  "Dig,  and  you  will  find  !  " 
The  Swami  woke,  feeling  that  he  had 

*  It  is  my  own  belief  that  the   second  word   was  Esstnt.     Bat 
alas,  I  cannot  remember  the  Sanskritic  derivation  !  — N. 



had  no  common  dream,  and  tumbled  out  on 
deck,  to  take  the  air.  As  he  did  so,  he  met  a 
ship's  officer,  turning  in  from  his  watch. 
'  What  is  the  time  ? '  he  asked  him. 

"  Midnight,"  was  the  answer. 

"  And  where  are  we  ?" 

"  Just  fifty  miles  off  Crete  !  " 

This  unexpected  coincidence  startled  the 
Swami,  lending  inevitable  emphasis  to  the 
dream  itself.  The  experience  now  seemed  to 
precipitate  elements,  that  without  it,  would 
have  lain  in  his  mind  meaningless  and  un- 
related. He  confessed  afterwards  that  up  to 
this  time  it  had  never  occurred  to  him  to  doubt 
the  historic  personality  of  Christ,  and  that 
after  this,  he  could  never  rely  upon  it.  He 
understood  all  at  once  that  it  was  S.  Paul  alone 
of  whom  we  could  be  sure.  He  saw  the 
meaning  of  the  fact  that  the  Acts  of  the 
Apostles  was  an  older  record  than  the 
Gospels.  And  he  divined  that  the  teaching 
of  Jesus  might  have  originated  with  the 



Rabbi  Hillel,  while  the  ancient  sect  of  the 
Nazarenes  might  have  contributed  the  name 
and  the  person,  with  its  beautiful  sayings, 
reverberating  out  of  some  unknown  antiquity. 
But  while  his  vision  thus  exercised  an 
undeniable  influence  over  his  own  mind,  he 
would  have  thought  it  insanity  to  offer  it  as 
evidence  to  any  other.  The  function  of  such 
an  experience,  if  admitted  at  all,  was  to  his 
thinking,  subjective  alone.  He  might  be 
led  by  it  to  doubt  the  historic  character  of 
Jesus  of  Nazareth;  but  he  never  referred  to 
Crete  as  the  probable  birth-place  of  Christia- 
nity. That  would  be  an  hypothesis  for  secular 
scholarship  alone,  to  prove  or  disprove. 
The  admitted  historic  spectacle  of  the  meet- 
ing of  Indian  and  Egyptian  elements  at 
Alexandria  was  the  only  geographical  factor 
of  which  he  ever  spoke.  Nor  did  this  in- 
tellectual dubiety  in  any  way  dim  the  bright- 
ness of  his  love  for  the  Son  of  Mary.  To 
Hindu  thinking,  it  is  the  perfection  of  the 



ideal,  as  ideal,  that  matters,  and  not  the 
truth  of  its  setting  in  space  and  time.  To 
the  Swami  it  was  only  natural,  therefore, 
to  refuse,  out  of  reverence,  to  give  his 
blessing  to  a  picture  of  the  Sistine 
Madonna,  touching  the  feet  of  the  Divine 
child,  instead  ;  or  to  say,  in  answer  to  an 
enquirer,  "Had  I  lived  in  Palestine,  in  the 
days  of  Jesus  of  Nazareth,  I  would  have 
washed  His  feet,  not  with  my  tears,  but 
with  my  heart's  blood  !"  In  this,  moreover,  he 
had  the  explicit  sanction  of  Sri  Ramakrishna, 
whom  he  had  consulted  anxiously,  in  his  boy- 
hood, on  a  similar  question,  to  be  answered, 
"Do  you  not  think  that  they  who  could 
create  such  things  must  themselves  have 
been  the  ideal  that  they  held  up  for 
worship  ?  " 




The  Temple  of  Dakshineshwar  was  built 
by  the  wealthy  Rani  Rashmani,  a  woman  of 
the  Koiburto  caste,  and  in  the  year  1853,  Sri 
Ramakrishna  took  up  his  residence  there,  as 
as  one  of  the  Brahmins  attached  to  its  service. 

These  were  facts  which  had  impressed  the 
mind  of  Vivekananda  even  more  deeply,  per- 
haps, than  he  himself  ever  knew.  A  woman 
of  the  people  had  been,  in  a  sense,  the 
mother  of  that  whole  movement  of  which  all 
the  disciples  of  his  Master  formed  parts. 
Humanly  speaking,  without  the  Temple  of 
Dakshineshwar  there  had  been  no  Rama- 
krishna, without  Ramakrishna  no  Viveka- 
nanda, and  without  Vivekananda,  no  Western 
Mission.  The  whole  story  rested  on  the 
building,  erected  on  the  Ganges  side,  a  few 
miles  above  Calcutta,  just  before  the  middle 



of  the  nineteenth  century.  And  that  was 
the  outcome  of  the  devotion  of  a  rich  woman 
of  the  lower  castes, — a  thing  that  under  a 
purely  Hindu  government,  bound  to  the 
maintenance  of  Brahmin  supremacy,  would 
never  have  been  possible,  as  the  Swami  him- 
seLr  was  not  slow  to  point  out.  From  this 
he  inferred  the  importance  of  the  non-cogni- 
sance of  caste,  by  centralised  governments 
in  India. 

Rani  Rashmani,  in  her  time,  was  a  woman 
of  heroic  mould.  The  story  is  still  told,  of 
how  she  defended  the  fisher-folk  of  Calcutta 
against  wrongful  taxation,  by  inducing  her 
husband  to  pay  the  enormous  sum  demanded, 
and  then  insist  on  closing  the  river  against 
the  heavy  traffic  of  the  foreigners.  She 
fought  a  like  good  fight  over  the  right  of  her 
household  to  carry  the  images  of  the  gods 
along  the  roads  she  owned,  on  the  lordly 
Maidan,  or  Park.  If  the  English  objected 
to  the  religion  of  the  Indian  people,  she  said 



in  effect,  it  was  a  small  matter  to  build  walls 
at  the  disputed  points,  to  right  and  left  of 
the  procession-path.  And  this  was  done, 
with  the  result  of  breaking  the  continuity 
of  the  grand  pleasure-drive,  the  Rotten  Row 
of  Calcutta.  Early  in  her  widowhood,  she 
had  to  bring  all  her  wits  to  bear  on  her 
bankers,  in  order  to  get  into  her  own  hands 
the  heavy  balance  which  she  required  for 
working-capital.  This  she  accomplished, 
however,  with  the  greatest  tact  and  adroit- 
ness, and  was  mistress  of  her  own  affairs 
thenceforth.  Later,  a  great  law-suit,  in  which 
the  ready-wit  of  her  replies  through  counsel 
carried  all  before  her,  became  a  household 
word  in  Hindu  Calcutta. 

The  husband  of  Rani  Rashmani's  daugh- 
ter, 'Mathur  Babu'  as  he  was  called,  bears  a 
name  that  figures  largely  in  the  early  history 
of  Sri  Ramakrishna.  It  was  he  who  pro- 
tected the  great  devotee,  when  all  around 
held  him  to  be  religion-mad.  It  was  he  who 



continued  him  in  the  enjoyment  of  residence 
and  allowances,  without  permitting  duties 
to  be  demanded  of  him.  In  these  things, 
Mathur  Babu  acted  as  the  representative 
of  his  wife's  mother.  Rani  Rashmani 
had  recognised  the  religious  genius  of 
Sri  Ramakrishna,  from  the  beginning,  and 
proved  unfaltering  in  her  adhesion  to 
that  first  insight. 

And  yet,  when  Ramakrishna,  as  the  young 
Brahmin  of  Kamapukur,  had  first  come  to 
Dakshineshwar,  so  orthodox  had  he  been, 
that  he  could  not  tolerate  the  idea  of  a 
temple,  built  and  endowed  by  a  low-caste 
woman.  As  the  younger  brother  of  the  priest- 
in-charge,  he  had  to  assist,  hour  after  hour,  in 
the  religious  ceremonies  of  the  opening  day. 
But  he  would  eat  none  of  the  prasadam. 
And  late  at  night,  it  is  said,  when  all  was 
over,  and  the  guests  had  dispersed,  he  broke 
his  fast  for  the  first  time,  with  a  handful  of 
fried  lentils  bought  in  the  bazaar. 



Surely  this  fact  deepens  the  significance 
of  the  position  which  he  subsequently  occu- 
pied in  the  Temple-garden.  It  was  by  no 
oversight  that  he  became  the  honoured  guest 
and  dependent  of  the  Koiburto  Rani.  We 
are  justified  in  believing  that  when  at  last  he 
found  his  mission,  he  recognised  it  as  sub- 
versive, rather  than  corroborative,  of  the 
rigid  conservatism  to  which  his  childhood  in 
the  villages  had  accustomed  him,  And  we 
may  hold  that  his  whole  life  declares  the  con- 
viction of  the  equal  religious  importance  of 
all  men,  whatever  their  individual  rank  in 
the  social  army. 

Our  Master,  at  any  rate,  regarded  the 
Order  to  which  he  belonged  as  one  whose 
lot  was  cast  for  all  time  with  the  cause  of 
Woman  and  the  People.  This  was  the  cry 
that  rose  to  his  lips  instinctively,  when  he 
dictated  to  the  phonograph  in  America,  the 
message  that  he  would  send  to  the  Rajah  of 
Khetri.  It  was  the  one  thought,  too,  with 



which  he  would  turn  to  the  disciple  at  his  side, 
whenever  he  felt  himself  nearer  than  usual 
to  death,  in  a  foreign  country,  alone,  "Never 
forget !  "  he  would  then  say,  "  the  word  is, 
Woman  and  the  People  ! ' ' 

It  is  of  course  in  moments  of  the  forma- 
tion of  groups  that  the  intensity  of  social 
power  is  at  its  greatest,  and  the  Swami  brood- 
ed much  over  the  fact  that  the  'formed? 
could  no  longer  give  life  or  inspiration. 
'Formed'  and  dead,  with  him,  were  syno- 
nyms. A  social  formation  that  had  become 
fixed,  was  like  a  tree  that  had  ceased  to 
grow.  Only  a  false  sentimentality  (and 
sentimentality  was,  in  his  eyes,  selfishness, 
'the  overflow  of  the  senses')  could  cause  us 
to  return  upon  it,  with  expectation. 

Caste  was  an  institution  that  he  was 
always  studying.  He  rarely  criticised,  he 
constantly  investigated  it.  As  an  inevitable 
phenomenon  of  all  human  life,  he  could  not 
look  upon  it  as  if  it  had  been  peculiar  to 



Hinduisim.  It  was  on  seeing  an  Englishman 
hesitate  to  admit,  amongst  gentlemen, 
that  he  had  once  killed  cattle  in  Mysore, 
that  the  Swami  exclaimed,  "The  opinion  of 
his  caste  is  the  last  and  finest  restraint  that 
holds  a  man!"  And  with  a  few  quick  strokes 
he  created  the  picture  of  the  difference 
between  those  standards  which  differentiate 
the  law-abiding  from  the  criminal,  or  the 
pious  from  the  unbelieving,  on  the  one 
hand,  and  on  the  other,  those  finer,  more 
constructive  moral  ideals,  that  inspire  us  to 
strive  for  the  respect  of  the  smaller  number 
of  human  beings  whom  we  regard  as  our 

But  remarks  like  this  were  no  indication 
of  partisanship.  It  was  for  the  monk  to 
witness  life,  not  to  take  sides  in  it.  He 
ignored  all  the  proposals  that  reached  him, 
which  would  have  pledged  him  to  one  party 
or  another,  as  its  leader.  Only  let  Woman 
and  the  People  achieve  education !  All 


further  questions  of  their  fate,  they  would 
themselves  be  competent  to  settle.  This 
was  his  view  of  freedom,  and  for  this  he 
lived.  As  to  what  form  that  education 
should  take,  he  knew  enough  to  understand 
that  but  little  was  as  yet  determined.  With 
all  his  reverence  for  individuality,  he  had  a 
horror  of  what  he  called  the  crime  of  the 
unfaithful  widow.  "  Better  anything  than 
that ! "  he  said,  and  felt.  The  white  un- 
bordered  sari  of  the  lonely  life  was  to  him 
the  symbol  of  all  that  was  sacred  and  true. 
Naturally  then,  he  could  not  think  of  any 
system  of  schooling  which  was  out  of  touch 
with  these  things,  as  'education.'  The 
frivolous,  the  luxurious,  and  the  de- nationa- 
lised, however  splendid  in  appearance,  was 
to  his  thinking  not  educated,  but  rather 
degraded.  A  modernised  Indian  woman, 
on  the  other  hand,  in  whom  he  saw  the  old- 
time  intensity  of  trustful  and  devoted  compan- 
ionship to  the  husband,  with  the  old-time 



loyalty  to  the  wedded  kindred,  was  still,  to 
him,  "the  ideal  Hindu  wife.  "  True  woman- 
hood, like  true  monkhood,  was  no  matter  of 
mere  externals.  And  unless  it  held  and 
developed  the  spirit  of  true  womanhood, 
there  could  be  no  education  of  woman  worthy 
of  the  name. 

He  was  always  watching  for  chance 
indications  of  the  future  type.  A  certain 
growth  of  individualism  was  inevitable,  and 
must  necessarily  bring  later  marriage,  and 
perhaps  a  measure  of  personal  choice,  in  its 
train.  Probably  this,  more  than  anything 
else,  wonld  tend  to  do  away  with  the  pro- 
blems created  by  child-widowhood.  At  the 
same  time,  it  was  not  to  be  forgotten  that 
early  marriage  had,  in  its  time,  been  a  deli- 
berate attempt,  on  the  part  of  the  com- 
munity, to  avoid  certain  other  evils  which 
they  had  regarded  as  incidental  to  its 

He  could  not  foresee  a  Hindu  woman  of 



the  future,  entirely  without  the  old  power  of 
meditation.  Modern  science  women  must 
learn  :  but  not  at  the  cost  of  the  ancient 
spirituality.  He  saw  clearly  enough  that 
the  ideal  education  would  be  one  that  should 
exercise  the  smallest  possible  influence  for 
direct  change  on  the  social  body  as  a  whole. 
It  would  be  that  which  should  best  enable 
every  woman,  in  time  to  come,  to  resume 
into  herself  the  greatness  of  all  the  women 
of  the  Indian  past. 

Each  separate  inspiration  of  days  gone  by 
had  done  its  work.  The  Rajput  story  teem- 
ed with  the  strength  and  courage  of  the  na- 
tional womanhood.  But  the  glowing  metal 
must  flow  into  new  moulds.  Ahalya  Bae 
Rani  had  been  perhaps  the  greatest  woman 
who  ever  lived.  An  Indian  sadku,  who  had 
come  across  her  public  works  in  all  parts  of 
the  country,  would  naturally  think  so.  Yet 
the  greatness  of  the  future,  while  including 
hers,  would  be  no  exact  repetition  of  it.  The 



mother's  heart,  in  the  women  of  the  dawning" 
age,  must  be  conjoined  with  the  hero's  will. 
The  fire  on  the  Vedic  altar,  out  of  which 
arose  Savitri,  with  her  sacred  calm  and  free- 
dom, was  ever  the  ideal  background.  But 
with  this  woman  must  unite  a  softness  and 
sweetness,  as  of  the  south  winds  them- 

Woman  must  rise  in  capacity,  not  fall. 
In  all  his  plans  for  a  widows'  home,  or  a  girls' 
school  and  college,  there  were  great  green 
spaces.  Physical  exercise,  and  gardening, 
and  the  care  of  animals,  must  form  part  of 
the  life  lived  there.  Religion,  and  an  intensity 
of  aspiration  more  frequent  in  the  cloister 
than  outside  it,  were  to  be  heart  and  back- 
ground of  this  new  departure.  And  such 
schools,  when  the  winter  was  over,  must 
transform  themselves  into  pilgrimages,  and 
study  half  the  year  in  the  Himalayas.  Thus 
a  race  of  women  would  be  created,  who  should 
be  nothing  less  than  "  Bashi-Bazouks  of 



religion,"*  and  they  should  workout  the  prob- 
lem, for  women.  No  home,  save  in  their 
work  ;  no  ties,  save  of  religion  ;  no  love,  but 
that  for  guru,  and  people,  and  motherland. 
Something  after  this  sort  was  his  dream. 
He  saw  plainly  enough  that  what  was  want- 
ed was  a  race  of  women-educators,  and  this 
was  how  he  contemplated  making  them. 
Strength,  strength,  strength  was  the  one 
quality  he  called  for,  in  woman  as  in  man. 
But  how  stern  was  his  discrimination  of 
what  constituted  strength !  Neither  self- 
advertisement  nor  over-emotion  roused  his 
admiration.  His  mind  was  too  full  of  the 
grand  old  types  of  silence  and  sweet- 
ness and  steadiness  to  be  attracted  by 
any  form  of  mere  display.  At  the  same 

*  The  Bashi-Bazouks  were  the  bodyguard  of  the  Caliph.  For 
many  centuries,  the  members  of  the  Turkish  Guard  consisted  of 
soldiers  who  had  been  kidnapped  in  early  childhood  from  all  races 
and  countries,  and  brought  up  in  Islam.  Their  religion  was  thus 
their  passion,  and  the  service  of  their  land  and  sovereign,  their 
only  bond  of  union.  They  were  renowned  throughout  Europe  for 
their  fierceness  and  courage.  Their  power  was  broken  in  Egypt  by 



time,  woman  had  as  large  an  inheritance 
as  man,  in  all  the  thought  and  knowledge 
that  formed  the  peculiar  gift  of  the 
age  to  India.  There  could  be  no  sex  in 
truth.  He  would  never  tolerate  any  scheme 
of  life  and  polity  that  tended  to  bind  tighter 
on  mind  and  soul  the  fetters  of  the  body. 
The  greater  the  individual,  the  more  would 
she  transcend  the  limitations  of  femininity 
in  mind  and  character ;  and  the  more  was 
such  transcendence  to  be  expected  and 

He  looked,  naturally  enough,  to  widows  as 
a  class,  to  provide  the  first  generation  of 
abbess-like  educators.  But  in  this  respect,  as 
in  all  others,  he  made  no  definite  plans.  In 
his  own  words,  he  only  said  "  'Awake! 
Awake  ! '  Plans  grow  and  work  themselves." 
Yet  he  would  have  welcomed  material,  wher- 
ever it  might  have  come  from.  He  knew  of 
no  reason  why  it  should  be  impossible  to 
any  woman —  by  strong  and  simple  character 



and  intellect,  and  uprightness  of  living — to 
make  herself  a  vehicle  of  the  highest  ideals. 
Even  burdens  of  the  conscience  must  be 
held  redeemable  by  sincerity.  "  All  great 
ends  must  be  freely  pursued,  "  says  a  recent 
writer  on  feminist  movements,  and  the  Swami 
had  no  fear  of  freedom,  and  no  distrust  of 
Indian  womanhood.  But  the  growth  of 
freedom  of  which  he  dreamt,  would  be  no 
fruit  of  agitation,  clamorous  and  iconoclastic. 
It  would  be  indirect,  silent,  and  organic. 
Beginning  with  a  loyal  acceptance  of  the 
standards  of  society,  women  would  more 
and  more,  as  they  advanced  in  achieve- 
ment, learn  to  understand  both  the  commands 
and  the  opportunities,  which  characteris- 
ed the  national  life.  By  fulfilling  those 
demands,  and  availing  themselves  to  the  full 
of  their  opportunities,  they  would  grow  more 
Indian  than  ever  before,  even  while  they 
entered  on  a  grandeur  of  development,  of 
which  the  past  had  never  dreamt. 



In  nothing,  perhaps,  did  the  personal  free- 
dom of  Vivekananda  show  itself  more  plainly 
than  in  his  grasp  of  the  continuity  of  the  na- 
tional life.  The  new  form  was  always,  to  him, 
sanctified  by  the  old  consecration.  To  draw 
pictures  of  the  goddess  Saraswati  was,  ac- 
cording to  him,  "  to  worship  her.  "  To  study 
the  science  of  medicine  was  "  to  be  down 
on  one's  knees,  praying  against  the  demons 
of  disease  and  filth.  "  The  old  bhakti  of  the 
cow  show  ed  how  receptive  was  the  spirit  of 
Hindu  society  of  new  and  scientific  methods 
of  dairy-farming,  and  the  pasturing  and  care 
of  animals.  The  training  of  the  intellect  to  its 
highest  perfection,  he  believed  essential  to 
the  power  of  religious  concentration.  Study 
was  tapasya,  and  Hindu  meditativeness  an 
aid  to  scien  t  ific  insight.  All  work  was  a  form 
of  renunciation.  Love,  even  of  home  and 
family,  was  always  capable  of  being  wrought 
into  a  grander  and  more  universal  passion. 

He  delighted  to  point  out  that  to  the  Hindu 



all  written  words  were  sacred,  English  and 
Persian  to  the  full  as  much  as  Sanskrit.  But 
he  hated  the  tinkling  sound  of  foreign  man- 
ners and  foreign  accomplishments.  He  could 
not  bear  to  listen  to  a  criticism  that  con- 
cerned itself  merely  with  the  readjustment  of 
externals.  When  comparisons  had  to  be 
made,  he  dealt  always  with  the  ideal  as 
differently  expressed  by  different  societies 
and  measured  either  failure  or  achieve- 
ment, whether  in  modern  or  mediaeval,  by 
this  central  aim. 

Above  all,  his  conception  of  love  was  one 
that  admitted  of  no  differentiation  between 
the  speaker  and  him  of  whom  he  spoke.  To 
refer  to  others  as  "they"  was  already,  to  his 
ears,  almost  hatred.  He  always  united  himself 
with  the  criticised  or  the  condemned.  Those 
about  him  realised  that  if  the  universe  had 
indeed  been  resolvable  into  an  ultimate  for- 
mula of  dualism,  his  own  part  would  have 
been  chosen,  not  with  Michael  the  Archangel, 



but  with  him,  eternally  defeated,  over  whom 
he  triumphed.  And  this  was  with  him  no 
expression  of  an  inner  conviction  that  he 
could  teach  or  aid.  It  was  simply  the  pas- 
sionate determination  to  share  the  hardest 
lot  to  which  any  might  be  driven  without 
escape,  to  defy  the  powers  of  the  universe, 
if  need  be,  by  himself  suffering  the  utmost 
to  which  any  single  consciousness  anywhere 
might  find  itself  irretrievably  doomed. 

Well  might  he  point  out,  as  he  does  in 
certain  of  his  published  letters,  that  even 
compassion  was  not  motive  enough,  on  which 
to  build  the  service  of  others.  He  would 
have  no  such  patronage.  Compassion,  he 
said,  was  that  which  served  others  with  the 
idea  that  they  were  jivas,  souls :  love,  on  the 
contrary,  regarded  them  as  the  Atman,  the 
very  Self.  Love,  therefore,  was  worship,  and 
this  worship  the  vision  of  God.  "  For  the  Ad- 
vaitin,  therefore,  the  ONLY  motive  is  love.  "There 
was  no  privilege  to  be  compared  with  the  trust 


of  a  great  service.  "It  is  the  Saviour,"  he 
says,  in  one  of  his  letters,  "who  should  go 
on  his  way  rejoicing ;  not  the  saved !"  As 
priests  purifying  themselves  for  the  service 
of  the  altar,  with  eager  awe,  and  the  will  to 
endure  all,  and  yet  be  steadfast,  must  they 
come  forward,  who  were  chosen  for  the  sacred 
task  of  woman's  education.  He  remembered, 
and  often  repeated,  the  words  of  Mataji 
Maharani,  the  Mahratta  woman  who  founded 
in  Calcutta,  the  Mahakali  Pathshala. 
"  Swamiji !  "  she  said,  pointing  to  the  little 
girls  whom  she  taught,  "  I  have  no  help. 
But  these  blessed  ones  I  worship,  and  they 
will  take  me  to  salvation  !  " 

A  like  intensity  of  chivalry  spoke,  in 
his  attitude  towards  those  whom  he  called 
"  the  People.  "  Education  and  knowledge 
were  the  right  of  these,  as  much  as  of  their 
brothers,  higher  in  the  social  scale.  Having 
this,  they  would  work  out  their  own  destiny, 
freely,  from  within.  In  this  view  of  the  task 



before  him,  the  Swami  was  only  continuing 
the  tradition  of  all  the  great  Indian  teachers, 
from  Buddha  downwards.  In  the  age  when 
the  philosophy  of  the  Upanishads  had  been 
the  exclusive  privilege  of  the  Aryans,  the 
Tathagatha  arose,  and  taught  to  all  alike  the 
Perfect  Way,  of  Nirvana  by  Renunciation. 
In  a  place  and  a  period  where  the  initiation 
of  the  great  Masters  was  the  cherished  cul- 
ture of  the  few,  Ramanuja,  from  the  tower 
of  Conjeeveram,  proclaimed  the  mystic  text 
to  all  the  pariahs.  It  is  now  the  dawn  of  the 
modern  age, — with  its  realisation  of  man- 
hood by  secular  knowledge — in  India. 
Naturally  then,  to  Vivekananda  the  absorb- 
ing question  was,  how  to  give  secular 
knowledge  to  the  People. 

He  saw,  of  course,  that  the  energy  and 
co-operation  of  the  whole  nation  was  neces- 
sary, if  material  prosperity  was  ever  to  be 
brought  back  to  India.  And  he  knew  well 
enough  that  the  restoration  of  material  pros- 



parity  was  an  imperative  need.  A  God,  he 
said,  with  his  accustomed  vigour,  who  could 
not  in  this  life  give  a  crust  of  bread,  was  not 
to  be  trusted  in  the  next  for  the  kingdom  of 
heaven !  He  also  felt,  probably,  that  only 
by  the  spread  of  knowledge  could  the  country 
as  a  whole  be  kept  steadfast  in  its  reverence 
for  the  greatness  of  its  own  inherited  culture, 
intellectual  and  religious.  In  any  case,  new 
life  could  only  be  poured  into  the  veins  of 
the  higher  classes,  by  a  great  movement  of 
forth-reaching  to  the  democracy.  He  be- 
lieved that  the  one  thing  to  be  renounced 
was  any  idea  of  birth  as  the  charter  of  lead- 
ership. The  sublimated  common-sense  that 
men  call  genius,  was  to  the  full  as  likely 
to  occur  in  the  small  shopkeeper,  or  in  the 
peasant  taken  from  the  plough,  as  in  the 
Brahmin  or  the  Kayasth.  If  the  Kshatriya 
had  had  any  monopoly  of  courage,  where 
would  Tantia  Bhil  have  been  ?  He  believed 
that  the  whole  of  India  was  about  to  be 



thrown  into  the  melting-pot,  and  that  no  man 
could  say  what  new  forms  of  power  and  great- 
ness would  be  the  result. 

He  saw  plainly  that  the  education  of  the 
Indian  working-folk  was  properly  the  task  of 
the  Indian  lettered  classes,  and  of  no  others. 
The  infinite  danger  that  attended  the  intro- 
duction of  knowledge  by  foreign  minds  from 
foreign  sources,  was  never  for  one  moment 
hidden  from  him.  This  is  the  meaning  of 
his  constant  plea,  in  his  published  correspon- 
dence, for  the  teaching  of  the  villages,  by 
wandering  students,  who  would  carry  the 
magic  lantern,  the  camera,  and  some  means 
for  simple  chemical  experiments.  Again  he 
begs  for  the  inclusion  of  some  secular  ins- 
truction in  the  intercourse  of  the  begging 
friars,  with  the  humbler  classes.  All  this,  of 
course,  would  be  little  more  than  a  support 
and  attractive  invitation,  to  the  New  Learn- 
ing. For  that  learning  itself  every  man 
would  have  to  struggle,  alone  or  in  combina- 



tion.  But  there  can  be  no  doubt  that  to  bring 
home  to  a  large  population  the  idea  that 
there  is  a  world  of  thought  and  knowledge 
unattained  by  them,  is  the  first  step  in 
the  popularising  of  new  culture.  In  such 
schemes,  therefore,  the  Swami  was  empha- 
tically right. 

As  befitted  a  religious  teacher,  however, 
the  work  that  he  himself  initiated  and  conse- 
crated was  almost  always  some  special  service 
of  the  hungry  or  the  sick.  It  was  he  who 
found  the  money  that  started  the  special 
sanitation  missions,  first  undertaken  by  the 
Order,  as  a  measure  for  plague-prevention,  in 
1899,  and  never  since  abandoned.  Through- 
out his  years  in  the  West,  he  was  seeking 
for  workers  "  to  devote  themselves  to  the 
Indian  pariahs,  "  and  nothing  caused  him 
such  exultation  in  1897  as  to  see  his  Brahmin 
disciples  nursing  low-caste  patients  through 
cholera.  "  We  see  again,  "  he  said,  referring 
to  this,  "what  happened  before,  in  the  days 



of  Buddha.  "  And  those  who  knew  him  best, 
feel  a  peculiar  reverence  and  affection  for  the 
little  hospital  in  Benares,  that  was  the  last- 
born  child  of  his  love  and  pity. 

But  his  heart  was  not  less  bound  up  in 
other  undertakings,  which,  though  less  direct- 
ly his,  were  more  purely  educational.  The 
well-being  of  the  various  magazines  in  which 
the  Order  was  interested,  and  the  industrial 
education  carried  on  by  the  Orphanage  at 
Murshidabad,  were  matters  of  the  deepest 
import  in  his  eyes.  Under  present  circums- 
tances in  India,  the  magazine  is  often  a  kind 
of  peripatetic  school,  college,  and  university, 
all  in  one.  It  has  a  marvellous  degree  of 
influence.  It  carries  ideas  on  the  one  hand, 
and  offers  a  means  of  self-expression  on  the 
other,  and  it  was  an  instinctive  perception  of 
this  educational  value  that  made  the  Swami 
so  eager  about  the  fate  of  various  papers 
conducted  by  his  brethren  and  disciples.  The 
same  number  of  a  periodical  will  sometimes 



combine  the  loftiest  transcendental  abstrac- 
tions on  one  page  with  comparatively  falter- 
ing secular  speculations  on  the  next,  and  in 
this  affords  an  exact  index  to  the  popular 
mind  of  the  Transition.  The  Swami  himself 
said,  referring  to  this  paradox,  "  The  Hindu's 
idea  of  the  means  of  knowledge  is  medita- 
tion, and  this  serves  him  well,  when  the 
subject  is  mathematics.  Unfortunately,  how- 
ever, his  instinct  would  lead  him  to  the  same 
method  in  the  case  of  geography,  and  not 
much  geography  comes  that  way  !  " 

Vivekananda's  passion  of  pity,  however, 
did  not  concern  itself  with  the  Indian  people 
only.  True  to  his  Oriental  birth,  he  would 
always  defend  the  small  farmer  or  the  small 
distributor,  against  those  theorists  who  seem 
to  consider  that  aggregations  of  business  are 
justified  in  proportion  to  their  size.  He  held 
that  the  age  of  humanity  now  dawning 
would  occupy  itself  mainly  with  the 
problems  of  the  working-folk,  or,  as  he 



expressed  it,  with  the  problems  of  the  Sudra. 
When  he  first  landed  in  the  West,  he 
was  greatly  attacted,  as  his  letters  show,  by 
the  apparent  democracy  of  conditions  there. 
Later,  in  1900,  he  had  a  clearer  view  of  the 
underlying  selfishness  of  capital  and  the 
struggle  for  privilege,  and  confided  to  some- 
one that  Western  life  now  looked  to  him 
"  like  hell."  At  this  riper  stage  of  experience, 
he  was  inclined  to  believe  that  China  had 
gone  nearer  to  the  ideal  conception  of  human 
ethics  than  newer  countries  had  ever  done, 
or  could  do.  Yet  he  never  doubted  that  for 
man,  the  world  over,  the  coming  age  would 
be  "  for  the  People.  "  "  We  are  to  solve  the 
problems  of  the  Sudra,  "  he  said,  one  day, 
"  but  oh,  through  what  tumults  !  through 
what  tumults  !  "  He  spoke  like  one  gazing 
direct  into  the  future,  and  his  voice  had  the 
ring  of  prophecy  ;  but,  though  the  listener 
waited,  hoping  eagerly  for  more,  he  only 
became  silent,  lapsing  into  deeper  thought. 



I  have  always  believed  that  it  was  for  the 
guiding  and  steadying  of  men  through  some 
such  age  of  confusion  and  terror,  that  in  our 
Master's  life  and  that  of  Ramkrishna 
Paramahamsa,  the  worship  of  the  Mother  has 
sounded  such  a  mighty  Udbodhan.  She  it 
is  who  unites  in  Herself  the  extremes  of 
experience.  She  shines  through  evil  as 
through  good.  She  alone  is  the  Goal,  what- 
ever be  the  road.  Whenever  the  Swami 
would  chant  Her  salutation,  one  would 
hear,  like  the  subdued  music  of  some 
orchestra  behind  a  single  melody,  this  great 
chorus  of  the  historic  drama.  "  Thou  art  the 
welfare  and  happiness  in  the  homes  of  the 
virtuous,  "  he  would  recite,  "  And  Thou  art 
the  misery  and  wretchedness,  in  those  of  the 
quarrelsome  and  wicked  !  "  And  then,  as  the 
mingling  of  oppressor  and  oppressed  in  a 
common  hope  and  terror,  as  the  trampling  of 
armies,  and  turmoil  of  nations,  grew 
louder  and  clearer  to  the  mental  ear,  one 



would  hear  the  thunder  of  the  great  Ascrip- 
tion rise  above  it  all  : 

"  Thou  Mother  of  blessings, 
Thou  the  Giver  of  desires, 
Thou  the  Doer  of  all  good, 
To  Thee  our  salutation. 
Thee  we  salute,  Thee  we  salute, 

Thee  we  salute. 

Thou  terrible  dark  Night ! 
Thou  the  Night  of  Delusion  ! 
Thou  the  Night  of  DEATH- 
To  THEE  our  salutation  ! 
Thee  we  salute.    Thee  we  salute. 

Thee  we  salute.  " 



THE  Swami  had  once  asked  Pavhari 
Baba  of  "Ghazipur,  What  was  the  secret  of 
success  in  work  ?  and  had  been  answered, 
"  To  make  the  end  the  means,  and  the 
means  the  end.  " 

This  is  a  saying  that  one  penetrates  now 
and  again  for  a  moment  at  long  intervals. 
But  if  it  signifies  that  the  whole  energy  of 
the  worker  should  be  concentrated  on  the 
means,  as  if  these  were  the  end,  while  that 
end  itself  is  for  the  time  being  forgotten  or 
ignored,  then  it  may  be  only  another  way 
of  preaching  the  great  lesson  of  the  Gita, 
l<  To  action  man  has  a  right :  he  has  no  right 
to  the  fruits  of  action.  " 

Our  Master  possessed,  in  a  wonderful 
degree,  the  secret  of  inspiring  his  disciples  to 



attempt  this  ideal.  He  had  his  own  reasons — 
which  every  Hindu  will  perhaps  understand- 
for  feeling  that  a  European  who  was  to 
work  on  his  behalf  for  India  must  do  so  in 
the  Indian  way.  And  in  this  demand,  while 
he  never  confused  essentials  and  non- 
essentials,  he  regarded  no  detail  as  too  trivial 
to  be  important.  To  eat  only  of  approved 
foods,  and  to  do  this  with  the  ringers,  to  sit 
and  sleep  on  the  floor,  to  perform  Hindu 
ceremonies,  and  bind  oneself  strictly  by  the 
feelings  and  observances  of  Hindu  etiquette, 
were  all,  to  his  thinking,  means  of  arriving 
at  that  Indian  consciousness  which  would 
afterwards  enable  one  to  orientate  oneself 
truly  to  the  Indian  aspects  of  larger  ques- 
tions. Even  so  trifling  a  matter  as  the  use 
of  lime-juice  and  powdered  lentils,  instead  of 
soap,  appeared  to  him  worthy  of  thought 
and  effort.  Even  the  caste-feelings  that 
seemed  crude  must  be  appreciated  and  as- 
similated. It  was  tacitly  understood  that 



the  time  might  someday  come,  when  one 
would  be  free  of  all  these,  even  as  he  was 
free  ;  but  the  emancipation  won  by  going 
through  an  experience  is  very  different  from 
the  blindness  that  ignores  or  despises ! 

The  Swami  was  remarkable,  however,  in 
his  power  of  imparting  the  ideal  with  a 
custom.  To  this  day,  one  shudders  at  the 
impurity  and  roughness  of  blowing  out  a 
light ;  while  to  put  on  a  sari,  and  veil  the 
head,  is  always  to  strive  for  the  mood  of 
passive  sweetness  and  acceptance,  rather 
than  that  of  self-confident  aggression.  For 
in  how  far  this  symbolism  of  externals  is  a 
fact  of  common  Indian  perception,  we  are  not, 
perhaps,  quite  prepared  to  understand. 
"Never  neglect  to  lower  it !  "  said  the  monk 
Sadananda  to  me  once,  of  this  particular  gar- 
ment. "Remember  that  in  that  white  veil 
lies  the  half  of  saintliness  !" 

In  all  this,   one  was  led  along  the  path 
that  one  knew  already  to  be  right.     If  the 



student  was  to  solve  any  problem  of  Indian 
education,  it  was  essential  that  there  should 
first  be  experience  of  the  humbler  routine  of 
teaching  ;  and  for  this  the  supreme  and 
essential  quaification  was  to  have  looked  at 
the  world,  even  if  only  for  a  moment,  through 
the  eyes  of  the  taught.  Every  canon  of  edu- 
cational science  proclaims  this  fact.  'From 
known  to  unknown,'  from  simple  to  com- 
plex,' 'from  concrete  to  abstract,'  and  the  very 
term  'education'  itself,  are  all  words  only, 
on  the  lips  of  those  who  can  form  no  idea  of 
the  world  as  the  pupil  sees  it,  or  the  aims  to 
which  he  would  fain  be  aided  to  climb.  To 
teach  against  the  aspirations  of  the  taught,  is 
assuredly  to  court  ill  results  instead  of  good. 
What  was  startling  in  the  Swami's  disci- 
pline was  his  instinctive  assumption  that  the 
Indian  consciousness  was  built  up  on  the 
thousand  and  one  tiny  details  of  Indian  daily 
life.  Looking  closer,  one  saw  that  this  had 
been  the  method  pursued  by  Sri  Rama- 



krishna.  Whenever  he  desired  to  apprehend  a. 

new  idea,  he  had  adopted  the  food,  clothes, 
language,  and  general  habits  of  those  who 
held  it.  He  had  not  merely  attempted  to 
approximate  to  them  in  the  use  of  a  few  reli- 
gious formulae.  ^ 

But  Vivekananda  was  too  great  an  edu- 
cator to  disregard  the  freedom  of  the  disciple, 
even  in  such  matters  as  these.  The  aim  was 
revealed  only  little  by  little,  and  always  on 
the  basis  of  some  attempt  already  made.  It 
was  true  that  he  was  perpetually  testing 
purity  of  motive,  always  on  his  guard  against 
the  possible  intrusion  of  self-interest,  in  him- 
self or  in  others.  "I  trust  no  one,"  he  said, 
"because  I  do  not  trust  myself.  How  do  I 
know  what  I  may  become,  to-morrow  ? " 
But  it  was  also  true  that  it  was  not  in  his 
nature,  as  he  said  once,  to  interfere  with 
liberty,  even  to  prevent  mistakes.  V  It  was 
for  him  to  point  out  the  source  of  an  error, 
only  when  it  had  been  committed,  V 



During  the  first  six  months  of  1899,  I 
dined  occasionally  with  people  of  various 
classes,  both  Indian  and  European,  in  Cal- 
cutta. This  fact  always  caused  the  Swami 
uneasiness.  He  feared  a  revulsion,  probably, 
against  the  extreme  simplicity  of  orthodox 
Hindu  life.  Undoubtedly  also  he  thought  a 
strong  reaction  possible,  in  favour  of  the 
associations  of  one's  birth.  He  had  seen  a 
great  religious  movement  shattered  in  the 
West,  by  the  petty  social  ambition  of  a  woman 
of  over-much  refinement.  Yet  he  never  in- 
terfered with  me  in  this  matter,  though  a 
single  word  of  authority  would  have  been 
enough  at  any  time  to  have  ended  it.  Nor 
did  he  ever  show  his  disapproval.  He  took 
an  interest,  on  the  contrary,  in  every  experi- 
ence that  one  brought  to  his  notice.  He 
would  in  a  general  way  express  his  fear,  or 
utter  a  grave  warning,  not  at  the  time  under- 
stood, about  'loaves  and  fishes,'  But  seeing, 
perhaps,  that  there  was  a  genuine  need  to 



form  a  concept  of  the  whole  synthesis  of 
classes  and  interests  in  Modern  India,  he 
gave  way  completely  to  his  disciple,  and 
allowed  the  course  of  enquiry  to  pursue  its 
own  path. 

It  was  only  on  the  ship,  during  the 
voyage  to  England,  that  he  fully  expressed 
the  ideal  that  was  in  him.  "You  must  give 
up  all  visiting,  and  live  in  strict  seclusion," 
he  said  one  day,  as  he  discussed  the  future 
of  the  women's  work.  "You  have  to  set 
yourself  to  Hinduise  your  thoughts,  your 
needs,  your  conceptions,  and  your  habits. 
Your  life,  internal  and  external,  has  to  be- 
come all  that  an  orthodox  Hindu  Brahmin 
Brahmacharini's  ought  to  be.  The  method 
will  come  to  you,  if  only  yon  desire  it  suffi- 
ciently. But  you  have  to  forget  your  owu 
past,  and  to  cause  it  to  be  forgotten.  %ou 
have  to  lose  even  its  memory!" 

Never  was  monk  more  passionately  mo- 
nastic than  Vivekananda,  for  all  his  apparent 



ease  and  fearlessness.  Yet  here,  in  the  case 
of  a  worker,  he  knew  how  to  substitute  for 
the  walls  of  a  convent,  the  Indian  people  and 
their  life.  This  has  sometimes  appeared  to 
me  the  greatest  manifestation  he  gave,  of  his 
genius.  "We  shall  speak  to  all  men,"  he 
said  once,  "in  terms  of  their  own  orthodoxy!" 
and  went  on  to  picture  a  branch  of  the 
Indian  Orders  in  the  English  Church,  wear- 
ing the  yellow  garb,  going  barefooted,  pract- 
ising the  extreme  of  asceticism,  and  standing 
always  for  the  supreme  truth  of  the  inter- 
relatedness  of  all  religions. 

In  the  special  case  of  the  Indian  conscious- 
ness, however,  his  ideal  was  by  no  means 
limited  to  a  strenuous  aspiration.  Step  by 
step,  point  by  point,  he  gave,  as  details  of 
Hindu  etiquette,  those  instructions  which  it 
is  customary  in  Europe  to  offer  the  religious 
novice.  It  was  in  this  way  that  he  laboured 
to  overcome  that  restlessness  and  emphasis 
of  Western  manners,  which  appears  to  the 



Eastern  mind  so  crude.  The  constant  ex- 
pression of  feeling,  whether  of  pain,  admira- 
tion, or  surprise,  was  to  him  shocking.  It 
was  not  necessary  to  stigmatise  it  as 
irreligious,  for  it  was  ill-bred.  The  oriental 
expects  of  a  man  that  he  should  feel,  and 
keep  his  feeling  to  himself.  Any  constant 
pointing-out  of  the  curious  or  the  beautiful 
appears  to  him  an  unwarrantable  intrusion 
on  the  privacy  and  self-directedness  of 
thought.  Yet  that  the  desired  repose  of 
manner  is  not  conceived  of  as  merely  idle,  is 
seen  in  the  case  of  that  sage  who  was  asked 
by  a  certain  king  to  tell  him  about  God. 
"What  is  He  like  ?  What  is  He  like  ?  "  And 
the  saint  replied,  I"  All  this  time  I  was  tell- 
ing you,  O  king !  For  silence  is  His 
name!"  ) 

This  was  a  point  on  which  the  Swami 
was  exacting.  He  would  impose  on  the 
European  disciple  long  periods  of  severe 
restraint.  "  Stuggle  to  realise  yourself,  "  he 



said  on  a  certain  occasion,  '"without  a  trace 
of  emotion  !  " 

Watching  the  fall  of  dead  leaves  once,  in 
the  stillness  of  an  autumn  evening,  he  did 
not  deny  that  there  was  poetry  in  the  sight, 
but  he  declared  that  mental  excitement, 
roused  by  what  was  merely  an  event  of  the 
external  sense-world,  was  childish  and  out  of 
place.  All  Western  people,  he  said,  had  to 
learn  the  great  lesson,  of  holding  experience 
and  emotion  apart.  "Watch  the  fall  of  the 
leaves,  but  gather  the  sentiment  of  the  sight 
from  within,  at  some  later  time  !  " 

This  is  neither  more  nor  less  than  the 
conventual  doctrine  of  recollectedness  and 
peace,  as  known  in  Europe.  Is  it  also  a 
subtle  method  of  evoking  creative  faculty  ? 
Does  it  point  to  a  poetry  which  holds  the 
world  as  a  vast  symbol,  yet  thrones  the 
intellect  high  above  the  senses  ? 

Carrying  the  question  out  of  the  sphere 
of  mere  good-breeding,  and  mental  discip- 


line,  and  framing  the  same  truth  again  in 
terms  of  the  spiritual  life  alone,  the  Swami 
would  speak  with  horror  of  that  bondage 
which  shows  itself  in  the  quest  of  subtle  meta- 
physical pleasures.  In  all  idealism,  he 
would  say,  lies  the  danger  of  idealising 
merely  what  we  have  reached.  Such  "cover- 
ing of  a  corpse  with  flowers  "  would  sooner 
or  later  mean,  when  realised  in  practice,  the 
abandonment  of  the  People,  and  the  destruc- 
tion of  the  work.  Only  they  could  be  faith- 
ful who  were  beyond  temptation,  followers 
of  the  pure  idea,  regai  dless  of  self. 

"Mind  !  "  he  said,  as  he  talked  of  future 
methods,  •'  No  loaves  and  fishes  !  No  glam 
our  of  the  world  !  All  this  must  be  cut  short. 
It  must  be  rooted  out.  It  is  sentimentality, — 
the  overflow  of  the  senses.  It  comes  to  you 
in  colour,  sight,  sound,  and  associations. 
Cut  it  off.  Learn  to  hate  it.  It  is  utter 
poison  !  " 

Thus  the  common  routine  of  the  Hindu 



home  became  eloquent,  on  the  Swami's  lips, 
of  a  world  of  deeper  truths,  characteristical- 
ly apprehended  by  the  Hindu  mind.  He 
himself  had  been  interested,  from  his  baby- 
hood, in  monastic  organisation.  He  had  once 
had  a  copy  of  the  Imitation,  in  which  there 
was  a  preface  describing  the  monastery  and 
the  rule  followed  by  Jean  de  Gerson,  the 
supposed  author,  and  this  preface,  to  his 
imagination,  had  been  the  jewel  of  the 
book.  Not  contented  with  reading  it  over 
and  over  till  he  knew  it  off  by  heart,  it  filled 
the  dreams  of  his  boyhood  ;  till  with  a  kind 
of  surprise  he  awoke,  in  middle  age,  to  find 
himself  organising  another  monastic  order, 
on  the  banks  of  the  Ganges,  and  realised  that 
the  fascination  of  his  childhood  had  been  a 
foreshadowing  of  the  future. 

Yet  it  was  not  the  conventualism  of 
authority,  or  of  the  school,  but  that  of  the 
Hindu  widow,  following  her  rule  freely,  in 
the  midst  of  the  family,  that  he  held  up  to  a 



European  disciple  for  a  model.  "An  ortho- 
dox Hindu  Brahmin  Brahmacharini"  was 
his  ideal  for  the  woman  of  character,  and  no 
words  can  convey  the  delight  with  which 
his  voice  lingered  over  the  phrase. 

"Lay  down  the  rules  for  your  group,  and 
formulate  your  ideas,"  he  said  once,  dealing 
with  this  very  point,  "and  put  in  a  little 
universalism,  if  there  is  room  for  it.  But 
remember  that  not  more  than  half  a  dozen 
people  in  the  whole  world  are  ever  at  any 
one  time  ready  for  this  !  There  must  be 
room  for  sects,  as  well  as  for  rising  above 
sects.  You  will  have  to  manufacture  your 
own  tools.  Frame  laws,  but  frame  them  in 
such  a  fashion  that  when  people  are  ready 
to  do  without  them,  they  can  burst  them 
asunder.  Our  originality  lies  in  combining 
perfect  freedom  with  perfect  authority.  This 
can  be  done,  even  in  monasticism.  For  my 
own  part,  I  always  have  an  horizon." 

He  broke  off  here  to  follow  another  line 



of  thought,  which  always  interested  him,  and 
always  appeared  to  him  fruitful  of  applica- 
tions. "Two  different  races,"  he  said,  "mix 
and  fuse,  and  out  of  them  rises  one  strong 
distinct  type.  This  tries  to  save  itself  from 
admixture,  and  here  you  see  the  beginning 
of  caste.  Look  at  the  apple.  The  best 
specimens  have  been  produced  by  crossing, 
but  once  crossed,  we  try  to  preserve  the 
variety  intact." 

A  few  days  afterwards,  the  same  reflec- 
tion came  uppermost  again,  and  he  said  with 
great  earnestness,  *'A  strong  and  distinct 
type  is  always  the  physical  basis  of  the 
horizon.  It  is  all  very  well  to  talk  of 
imiversalism,  but  the  world  will  not  be  ready 
for  that  for  millions  of  years  !" 

"Remember !"  he  said  again,  "if  you 
want  to  know  what  a  ship  is  like,  the  ship 
has  to  be  specified  as  it  is, — its  length, 
breadth,  shape,  and  material.  And  to 
understand  a  nation,  we  must  do  the  same. 



India  is  idolatrous.  You  must  help  her  as 
she  is.  Those  who  have  left  her  can  do 
nothing  for  her !" 

The  Swami  felt  that  there  was  no  task 
before  India  which  could  compare  in  import- 
ance with  that  of  woman's  education.  His 
own  life  had  had  two  definite  personal  pur- 
poses, of  which  one  had  been  the  establish- 
ment of  a  home  for  the  Order  of  Rama- 
krishna,  while  the  other  was  the  initiation  of 
some  endeavour  towards  the  education  of 
woman.  With  five  hundred  men,  he  would 
say,  the  conquest  of  India  might  take  fifty 
years  :  with  as  many  women,  not  more  than 
a  few  weeks. 

In  gathering  widows  and  orphans  to  be 
trained,  he  was  of  opinion  that  the  limita- 
tions of  birth  must  be  steadfastly  ignored. 
But  it  was  essential  to  success  that  those 
who  were  chosen  should  be  young  and 
unformed.  " Birth  is  nothing !"  he  would 
say,  "Environment  is  everything!"  But 



above  all  else,  he  felt  that  impatience  was 
inexcusable.  If  in  twelve  years  any  result 
were  visible,  this  fact  would  constitute  a 
great  success.  The  task  was  one  that  might 
well  take  seventy  years  to  accomplish. 

For  hours  he  would  sit  and  talk  of 
details,  building  castles  in  the  air  of  an  ideal 
school,  dwelling  lovingly  on  this  point  and 
that.  None  of  it  would  ever,  perhaps,  be 
carried  out  literally,  yet  all  of  it,  surely,  was 
precious,  since  it  showed  the  freedom  he 
would  have  given,  and  the  results  that,  from 
his  standpoint,  would  have  appeared  desirable. 

It  was  natural — if  only  in  view  of  my  own 
pre-occupation  at  the  time  with  the  religious 
ideas  of  Hinduism — that  all  these  plans 
should  wear  a  religious  colour,  They  were 
more  conventual  than  scholastic.  The  temper 
of  the  teaching  was  more  the  burden  of  his 
thought  than  the  learning  to  be  imparted. 
Except  for  a  sudden  exclamation  once, 
"We  must  turn  out  the  greatest  intellects  in 



India !"  I  scarcely  remember  that  he  ever 
said  anything  directly  affecting  the  secular 
side  of  the  woman's  education  scheme. 
He  took  for  granted  that  anything  deserving 
of  such  a  name  must  needs  be  measured  in 
terms  of  depth  and  severity.  He  was  no 
believer  in  that  false  idealism  which  leads 
to  modification  of  knowledge  or  dilution 
of  truth,  in  the  name  of  sex. 

How  to  make  the  home-background 
against  which  the  work  of  education  must 
be  carried  on,  at  once  thoroughly  progres- 
sive and  thoroughly  Hindu,  was  the  problem 
that  engrossed  him.  There  was  the  task  of 
so  translating  the  formulae  of  the  old  regime, 
moreover,  that  they  might  continue  to  com- 
mand the  reverence  of  the  modernised. 

The  moral  and  ethical  failures  which 
result  from  too  easy  an  adoption  of  foreign 
ideas,  without  regard  to  their  effects  on 
social  continuity  and  cohesion,  were  ever 
before  his  eyes.  He  knew  instinctively  that 



the  bonds  by  which  the  old  society  had  been 
knit  together,  must  receive  a  new  sanction 
and  a  deeper  sanctification,  in  the  light  of 
modern  learning,  or  that  learning  would 
prove  only  preliminary  to  the  ruin  of  India. 
But  he  never  made  the  mistake  of  thinking 
this  reconciliation  of  old  and  new  an  easy 
matter.  How  to  nationalise  the  modern  and 
modernise  the  old,  so  as  to  make  the  two 
one,  was  a  puzzle  that  occupied  much  of  his 
time  and  thought.  He  rightly  saw  that  only 
when  it  had  been  pieced  together,  could 
national  education  be  in  a  fair  way  to  begin. 

The  way  in  which  the  existing  obliga- 
tions of  Hindu  life  might  be  re-interpreted  to 
include  the  whole  of  the  modern  conception 
of  duty  to  country  and  history,  suddenly 
struck  him  one  day,  and  he  exclaimed  "How 
much  you  might  do,  with  those  five  Yajnas  !* 

*  These  are  :  (i)  to  the  Rishis,  by  learning  ;  (2)  to  the  Ances- 
tors, by  family  honour  (3)  to  the  Gods,  by  religion  ;  (4)  to  the 
Animals;  and  (5)  to  Mankind. 

These  five  sacr  ifices  are  to  be  performed  daily  by  every  Hindu. 



What    great    things     might    be    made     of 

The  light  had  broken  in  a  flash,  but 
it  did  not  leave  him.  He  took  up  the 
thread  of  the  idea,  and  went  into  every  detail. 

"Out  of  that  old  ancestor-/^,  you  might 
create  Hero-worship. 

"In  the  worship  of  the  gods,  you  must  of 
course  use  images.  But  you  can  change  these. 
Kali  need  not  always  be  in  one  position. 
Encourage  your  girls  to  think  of  new  ways 
of  picturing  Her.  Have  a  hundred  different 
conceptions  of  Saraswati.  Let  them  draw  and 
model  and  paint  their  own  ideas. 

"In  the  chapel,  the  pitcher  on  the  lowest 
step  of  the  altar,  must  be  always  full  of 
water,  and  the  lights — in  great  Tamil  but- 
ter-lamps— must  be  always  burning.  If,  in 
addition,  the  maintenance  of  perpetual  ador- 
ation could  be  organised,  nothing  could  be 
more  in  accord  with  Hindu  feeling. 

"But    the    ceremonies    employed    must 



themselves  be  Vedic.  There  must  be  a  Vedic 
altar,  on  which  at  the  hour  of  worship  to 
light  the  Vedic  fire.  And  the  children  must 
be  present  to  share  in  the  service  of  oblation. 
This  is  a  rite  which  would  claim  the  respect 
of  the  whole  of  India. 

"Gather  all  sorts  of  animals  about  you. 
The  cow  makes  a  fine  beginning.  But  you 
will  also  have  dogs  and  cats  and  birds  and 
others.  Let  the  children  have  a  time  for  go- 
ing to  feed  and  look  after  these. 

"Then  there  is  the  sacrifice  of  learning. 
That  is  the  most  beautiful  of  all.  Do  you 
know  that  every  book  is  holy,  in  India  ?  Not 
the  Vedas  alone,  but  the  English  and  Moham- 
medan also  ?  All  are  sacred. 

"Revive  the  old  arts.  Teach  your  girls 
fruit-modelling  with  hardened  milk.  Give 
them  artistic  cooking  and  sewing.  Let  them 
learn  painting,  photography,  the  cutting  of 
designs  in  paper,  and  gold  and  silver  filigree 
and  embroidery.  See  that  everyone  knows 



something  by  which  she  can  earn  a  living,  in 
case  of  need. 

"And  never  forget  Humanity  !  The  idea 
of  a  humanitarian  man-worship  exists  in 
nucleus  in  India,  but  it  has  never  been 
sufficiently  specialised.  Let  your  women  deve- 
lop it.  Make  poetry,  make  art,  of  it.  Yes, 
a  daily  worship  of  the  feet  of  beggars,  after 
bathing  and  before  the  meal,  would  be  a 
wonderful  practical  training  of  heart  and 
hand  together.  On  some  days,  again,  the  wor- 
ship might  be  of  children,  of  your  own  pupils, 
Or  you  might  borrow  babies,  and  nurse  and 
feed  them.  What  was  it  that  Mataji  said 
to  me  ?  'Swamiji !  I  have  no  help.  But  these 
blessed  ones  I  worship,  and  they  will  take 
me  to  salvation  ! '  She  feels,  you  see,  that  she 
is  serving  Uma  in  the  Kumari,  and  that  is 
a  wonderful  thought,  with  which  to  begin  a 

But  while  he  was  thus  prepared   to  worrc 
out  the  minutice  of  the  task  of  connecting  old 



and  new,  it  remained  always  true  that  the 
very  presence  of  the  Swami  acted  in  itself  as 
a  key  to  the  ideal,  putting  into  direct  relation 
with  it  every  sincere  effort  that  one  encoun- 
tered. It  was  this  that  made  evident  to  the 
crudest  eye  the  true  significance  of  ancient 
rites.  It  was  this  that  gave  their  sudden 
vividness  and  value  to  the  fresh  applications 
made  spontaneously  by  modernised  Hindus. 
Thus  the  reverence  of  a  great  Indian  man  of 
science  for  the  heroes  and  martyrs  of  E  uro- 
pean  science,  seemed  but  the  modern  form  of 
the  ancient  salutation  of  the  masters.  The 
pursuit  of  knowledge  for  its  own  sa  ke  with- 
out regard  to  its  concrete  application,  seemed 
an  inevitable  greatness  in  the  race  that  had 
dreamt  of  Jnanam.  Serene  indifference  to 
fame  and  wealth  proved  only  that  a  worker 
was  spiritually  the  monk,  though  he  might 
be  playing  the  part  of  citizen  and  house-holder. 
Of  this  element  in  his  own  life,  by  which 
all  else  that  was  noble  and  heroic  was  made 



into  a  recognition,  a  definite  illustration,  of 
an  ideal  already  revealed,  the  Swami  was  of 
course  unconscious.  Yet  this  was,  as  one 
imagines,  the  very  quintessence  of  his  inter- 
pretative power.  With  regard  to  the  details 
of  his  educational  suggestions,  their  pedagogic 
soundness  had  always  been  startling  to  me. 
Nor  did  I  feel  that  this  had  been  accounted 
for,  even  when  he  told  me  of  a  certain  period 
of  hardship  and  struggle,  when  he  had  under- 
taken to  translate  Herbert  Spencer's  'Edu- 
cation' into  Bengali,  and  had  gone  on,  be- 
coming interested  in  the  subject,  to  read  all 
he  could  find  about  Pestalozzi  also,  'though 
that  was  not  in  the  bond.' 

In  fact  so  deeply  is  the  Hindu  versed  in 
psychological  observation,  and  so  perfect  an 
example  of  the  development  of  faculty  has  he 
always  before  him,  in  the  religious  practices 
of  his  people,  that  he  enters  the  field  of 
educational  theory  with  immense  advantages. 
Nor  is  there  any  reason  why  the  very  centre 



of  scientific  thought  on  the  subject  should  not 
someday  be  found  with  him.  Meanwhile,  the 
lirst  step  towards  so  desired  a  consummation 
will  lie  in  apprehending  the  vast  possibilities 
of  existing  formulae.  Indian  educators  have 
to  extend  and  fulfil  the  vision  of  Viveka- 
nanda.  When  this  is  done,  when  to  his 
reverence  and  love  for  the  past,  we  can  add 
his  courage  and  hope  for  the  future,  and  his 
allegiance  to  the  sacredness  of  all  knowledge, 
the  time  will  not  be  far  distant  that  is  to  see 
the  Indian  woman  take  her  rightful  place 
amongst  the  womanhood  of  the  world. 



To  the  conscience  of  the  Swami,  his 
monastic  vows  were  incomparably  precious. 
To  him  personally — as  to  any  sincere  monk 
—marriage,  or  any  step  associated  with  it, 
would  have  been  the  first  of  crimes.  To  rise 
beyond  the  very  memory  of  its  impulse,  was 
his  ideal,  and  to  guard  himself  and  his 
disciples  against  the  remotest  danger  of  it, 
his  passion.  The  very  fact  of  un-married-ness 
counted  with  him  as  a  spiritual  asset.  It 
follows  from  all  this,  that  he  was  accompani- 
ed not  only  by  the  constant  eagerness  for 
monastic  perfection,  but  also  by  the  equally 
haunting  fear,  of  loss  of  integrity.  And  this 
fear,  however  salutary  or  even  necessary  ta 
his  own  fulfilment  of  the  ideal,  did  un- 
doubtedly, for  many  years,  come  between 
him  and  the  formulation  of  an  ultimate 



philosophy,    on    this    most    important   sub- 

It  must  be  understood,  however,  that  his 
dread  was  not  of  woman,  but   of  temptation. 
As    disciples,    as    co-workers,    and    even   as 
comrades    and    playfellows,    he    was   much 
associated  with   women,  the    world    over.    It 
happened  almost  always  that  he  followed  the 
custom  of  the    Indian    villages   with    these 
friends   of  his   wanderings,  and  gave   them 
some  title  of  family  relationship.  In  one  place 
he   found   a   group   of  sisters,    elsewhere   a 
mother,    a   daughter,    and    so    on.     Of    the 
nobility  of  these,    and   their   freedom    from 
false  or    trivial    ideas,    he    would    sometimes 
boast;  for  he  had  in  its  highest  degree  that 
distinction  of  fine  men,  to  seek  for  greatness 
and  strength,  instead  of  their   opposites,    in 
women.  To  see  girls,  as  he  had  seen  them 
in  America,  boating,  swimming,  and  playing 
games,    "without  once,"   in   his  own  phrase, 
"remembering  that  they  were  not  boys,"  de- 



lighted  him.  He  worshipped  that  ideal  of 
purity  which  they  thus  embodied  for  him. 

In  the  monastic  training,  he  laid  constant 
emphasis  on  the  necessity  of  being  neither 
man  nor  woman,  because  one  had  risen 
above  both.  Anything,  even  politeness,  that 
emphasised  the  idea  of  sex,  was  horrible  to 
him.  The  thing  that  the  West  calls  'chivalry' 
appeared  to  him  as  an  insult  to  woman. 
The  opinion  of  some  writers  that  woman's 
knowledge  ought  not  to  be  too  exact,  nor 
man's  to  be  too  sympathetic,  would  have 
sounded,  in  his  neighbourhood,  like  a  pitiful 
meanness.  The  effort  of  all  alike  must  be 
the  overcoming  of  such  limitations,  imposed 
on  a  defiant  human  spirit  by  our  physical 

The  ideal  of  the  life  of  the  student,  with 
its  mingling  of  solitude,  austerity,  and 
intense  concentration  of  thought,  is  known 
in  India  as  brahmacharya.  "Brahmacharya 
should  be  like  a  burning  fire  within  the 



veins  !"  said  the  Swami.  Concentration  upon 
subjects  of  study,  incidental  to  student-hood, 
was  to  him  only  one  form  of  that  negation 
of  personal  in!  impersonal,  which  to  his 
thinking  formed  so  inevitable  a  part  of  all 
great  lives,  that  for  its  sake  he  was  even 
tempted  to  admire  Robespierre,  in  his 
fanaticism  of  the  Terror.  The  worship  of 
Saraswati, — by  which  he  meant  perfect 
emotional  solitude  and  self-restraint — he 
believed  with  his  whole  heart  to  be  an  essential 
preparation  for  any  task  demanding  the 
highest  powers,  whether  of  heart,  mind,  or 
body.  Such  worship  had  been  recognised  in 
India  for  ages,  as  part  of  the  training  of  the 
athlete,  and  the  significance  of  this  fact  was 
that  a  man  must  dedicate  all  the  force  at  his 
disposal,  if  he  were  now  and  again  to  reach 
that  height  of  superconscious  insight,  which 
appears  to  others  as  illumination,  inspiration, 
or  transcendent  skill.  Such  illumination  was 
as  necessary  to  the  highest  work  in  art  or 



science,  as  in  religion.  No  man  who  was 
spending  himself  in  other  ways  selfish  or 
ignoble,  could  ever  have  painted  a  great 
Madonna,  or  enunciated  the  Laws  of  Gravita- 
tian.  The  civic  ideal  called  as  loudly  for 
monastic  devotion  as  the  spiritual.  The 
vows  of  celibacy  meant  renunciation  of 
the  private  for  the  public  good.  Thus  he 
saw  that  true  manhood  could  not  be,  without 
control  of  manhood  ;  that  the  achievement 
of  real  greatness,  by  whatever  path,  meant 
always  the  superiority  of  the  soul  to  the 
personal  impulse  ;  and  finally,  that  the  great 
monk  was  also  potentially  the  great  worker  or 
great  citizen.  That  he  was  equally  clear  as  to 
the  converse  of  this, — as,  for  instance,  that 
great  wifehood  or  great  citizenship  can  only 
be,  where  nunhood  or  monasticism  mighi 
have  been — I  cannot  say.  I  think  that 
perhaps  his  own  life,  of  monk  and  guide 
of  monastic  aspirants,  hid  from  him  this 
great  truth,  except  in  flashes,  until  the  end 



came,  and  his  summary  of  conclusions  was 
complete.  "It  is  true,"  he  said  once,  "that 
there  are  women  whose  very  presence  makes 
a  man  feel  driven  to  God.  But  there  are 
equally  others,  who  drag  him  down  to  hell." 

At  his  side,  it  was  impossible  to  think 
with  respect  of  a  love  that  sought  to  use,  to 
appropriate,  to  bend  to  its  own  pleasure  or 
good,  the  thing  loved.  Instead  of  this,  love, 
to  be  love  at  all,  must  be  a  welling  benedic- 
tion, a  free  gift,  "without  a  reason,"  and 
careless  of  return.  This  was  what  he  meant, 
by  his  constant  talk  of  "loving  without 
attachment."  Once,  indeed,  on  his  return 
from  a  journey,  he  told  some  of  us  that  he 
had  now  realised  that  the  power  to  attach 
oneself  was  quite  as  important  as  that  of 
detachment.  Each  must  be  instantaneous, 
complete,  whole-hearted.  And  each  was 
only  the  complement  of  the  other.  "Love 
is  always  a  manifestation  of  bliss,"  he  said  in 
England,  "the  least  shadow  of  pain  falling 


upon  it,  is  always  a  sign  of  physicality  and 

Furthest  of  all  from  his  admiration  were 
the  puling  literature  and  vitiated  art  that 
see  human  beings  primarily  as  bodies  to  be 
possessed,  and  only  in  the  second  place  as 
mind  and  spirit,  eternal  in  self-mastery  and 
inner  freedom.  Much,  though  not  all,  of  our 
Western  idealism,  seemed  to  him  to  be 
deeply  tainted  with  this^  spirit,  which  he  al- 
ways spoke  of  as  "hiding  a  corpse  beneath 

The  ideal  of  wifehood  he  thought  of,  in 
Eastern  fashion,  as  an  unwavering  flame  of 
devotion  to  one  alone.  Western  customs  he 
may  have  regarded  as  polyandrous,  for  I  find 
it  difficult  otherwise  to  account  for  his  state- 
ment that  he  had  seen  women  as  great  and 
pure  amongst  polyandrous  peoples,  as  in  the 
home  of  his  birth.  He  had  travelled  in 
Malabar,  but  not  in  Thibet  ;  and  in  Malabar, 
as  one  learns  by  enquiry,  the  so-called 



polyandry  is  really  only  matriarchal 
marriage.  The  husband  visits  the  wife  in 
her  own  home,  and  marriage  is  not 
necessarily  for  life,  as  in  the  rest  of  India  ; 
but  two  men  are  not  received  on  an  equal 
footing,  at  the  same  time.  In  any  case,  he 
had  learnt,  he  said,  that  "custom  was  nothing," 
that  use  and  wont  could  never  altogether 
thwart  or  limit  human  development.  He 
knew  that  in  any  country  and  any  race 
the  ideal  might  shine  forth  through  individuals 
in  all  its  fulness. 

He  never  attacked  a  social  ideal.  He 
told  me,  a  day]  or  two  before  I  landed  in 
England,  on  my  return  there  in  1899,  that  I 
must  take  back  while  in  the  West,  as  though 
I  thad  never  dropped  them,  the  social  ideals 
of  Europe.  To  him,  in  Europe  or  America, 
the  married  woman  was  not  less  in  honour 
than  the  unmarried.  Some  missionaries  on 
board  the  ship,  during  this  voyage,  were 
displaying  silver  wedding-bracelets  bought 


from  Tamil  women  in  the  stress  of  famine  ; 
and  the  talk  ran  on  the  superstitious  dislike 
of  wives,  East  and  West,  to  the  removal 
of  the  wedding-ring  from  finger  or  wrist. 
"You  call  it  a  superstition  ?"  exclaimed  the 
Swami,  in  low  pained  tones  of  astonishment, 
"You  cannot  see  the  great  ideal  of  chastity, 
behind  ?"* 

The  institution  of  marriage,  however,  was 
always  seen  by  him  in  its  relation  to  the 
ideal  of  spiritual  freedom.  And  freedom,  in 
the  Eastern  sense,  must  be  understood,  not 
as  the  right  to  do,  but  the  right  to  refrain 
from  doing — that  highest  inaction  which 
transcends  all  action.  "Against  marriage,  in 
order  to  rise  beyond  marriage,"  he  admitted 
one  day,  in  argument,  "I  have  nothing  to 
say."  The  perfect  marriage  was,  to  his 

*  The  chastity  of  the  wife,  as  Hindus  think  of  it,  is  a  word  that 
connotes  not  only  faithfulness  to  one  alone,  but  also  unwearying 
faithfulness.  In  this  ideal,  there  is  no  room  for  the  slightest  fluctua- 
tion of  distaste. 



thinking,  of  the  type  that  he  had  seen  in  his 
Master,  in  his  brother  Yogananda,  and  in 
his  disciple  Swarupananda.  And  these  were 
what  would  in  other  countries  have  been 
regarded  as  merely  nominal.  "You  see  there 
is  a  difference  of  outlook  on]  this  point !"  he 
said  once,  discussing  the  question.  "The 
West  regards  marriage  as  consisting  in  all 
that  lies  beyond  the  legal  tie,  while  in  India 
it  is  thought  of  as  a  bond  thrown  by  society 
round  two  people,  to  unite  them  together  for 
all  eternity.  Those  two  must  wed  each 
other,  whether  they  will  or  not,  in  life  after 
life.  Each  acquires  half  of  all  the  merit 
of  the  other.  And  if  one  seems  in  this  life 
to  have  fallen  hopelessly  behind,  it  is  for  the 
other  only  to  wait  and  beat  time,  till  he  or 
she  catches  up  again  !" 

Sri  Ramakrishna,  it  was  said,  had 
always  referred  to  marriage  as  a  special, 
and  to  the  monastic  life  as  a  universal, 
service.  In  this'  he  was,  one  supposes, 



alluding  only  to  marriages  of  the  very 
highest  type.  And  this  was  clearly  the 
determining  concept  of  celibacy  or  brahma- 
ckarya,  in  the  Swami's  own  mind.  He 
called  souls  to  take  this  vow  as  if  he  were 
calling  them  to  the  most  honourable  of 
warfare.  He  regarded  a  monastic  order  as 
"an  army"  behind  a  leader,  and  the  teacher 
whose  followers  were  all  citizens  and  house- 
holders, as  without  an  army.  There  could 
be  no  comparison,  in  his  mind,  between  the 
strength  of  a  cause  that  had,  and  one  that 
had  not,  this  support. 

Yet  in  marriage  itself,  he  was  not  wholly 
unable  to  see  a  career  for  the  soul.  I  can 
never  forget  his  story  of  an  old  couple  who 
were  separated,  after  fifty  years  of  companion- 
ship, at  the  doors  of  the  workhouse.  "What !" 
exclaimed  the  old  man,  at  the  close  of  the 
first  day,  "Can't  I  see  Mary  and  kiss  her 
before  she  goes  to  sleep?  Why,  I  haven't 
missed  doing  that  at  night,  for  fifty  years !" 



"Think  of  it !"  said  the  Swami,  glowing  with 
the  thought  of  an  achievement  so  high, 
"Think  of  it  Such  self-control  and  steadi- 
ness as  that,  ARE  mukti  \  Marriage  itself  had 
been  the  path  for  those  two  souls  ! 

He  held  with  unfaltering  strength,  that 
the  freedom  to  refrain  from  marriage,  if  she 
wished,  ought  to  be  considered  as  a  natural 
right  of  woman.  A  child,  whose  exclusive 
leaning  to  the  devotional  life  was  already 
strongly  marked  before  she  was  twelve,  had 
once  appealed  to  him  for  protection  against 
proposals  of  alliance  that  were  being  made 
by  her  family.  And  he,  by  using  his  influence 
with  her  father,  and  suggesting  increased 
dowers  for  the  younger  daughters,  had  been 
successful  in  aiding  her.  Years  had  gone  by, 
but  she  was  still  faithful  to  the  life  she  had 
adopted,  with  its  long  hours  of  silence  and 
retirement ;  and  all  her  younger  sisters  were 
now  wedded.  To  force  such  a  spirit  into 
marriage  would  in  his  eyes  have  been  a 



desecration.  He  was  proud,  too,  to  count  up 
the  various  classes, — of  child-widows,  wives 
of  kulin  Brahmins,  rare  cases  of  the  undower- 
ed  and  so  on — who  represent  the  unmarried 
woman  in  Hindu  society. 

He  held  that  the  faithfulness  of  widows 
was  the  very  pillar  on  which  social  institu- 
tions rested.  Only  he  would  have  liked  to 
declare  as  high  an  ideal  for  men  as  for 
women  in  this  respect.  The  old  Aryan 
conception  of  marriage,  symbolised  in  the 
fire  lighted  at  marriage,  and  worshipped 
morning  and  evening  by  husband  and 
wife  together,  pointed  to  no  inequality  of 
standards  or  responsibilities  as  between  the 
two.  Rama,  in  the  epic  of  Valmiki,  had 
been  as  true  to  Sita,  as  Sita  to  him. 

The  Swami  was  not  unaware  of  the  exis- 
tence of  social  problems,  in  connection  with 
marriage,  in  all  parts  of  the  world.  "These 
unruly  women,"  he  exclaims,  in  the  course  of 
a  lecture  in  the  West,  "from  whose  minds 



the  words  'bear  and  forbear'  are  gone  for 
ever  l"  He  could  admit,  also,  when  continu- 
ance in  a  marriage  would  involve  treachery 
to  the  future  of  humanity,  that  separation 
was  the  highest  and  bravest  course  for 
husband  or  wife  to  take.  In  India  he  would 
•constantly  point  out  that  Oriental  and  Occi- 
dental ideals  needed  to  be  refreshed  by  one 
another.  He  never  attacked  social  institutions 
as  such,  holding  always  that  they  had  grown 
up  out  of  a  desire  to  avoid  some  evil  which 
their  critic  was  possibly  too  headstrong  to 
preceive.  But  he  was  not  blind  to  the  over- 
swing  of  the  pendulum,  in  one  direction  or 
the  other. 

"There  is  such  pain  in  this  country  !"  he 
said  one  day  in  India,  speaking  of  marriage 
by  arrangement  instead  of  by  choice.  "Such 
pain !  Some,  of  course  there  must  always 
have  been.  But  now  the  sight  of  Europeans, 
with  their  different  customs,  has  increased 
it.  Society  knows  that  there  is  another  way  !" 



"We  have  exalted  motherhood,  and  you- 
wifehood,"  he  said  again,  to  a  European, 
"and  I  think  both  might  gain  by  some  inter- 

Again,  there  was  the  dream  that  he  re- 
counted on  board  ship,  "  in  which  I  heard 
two  voices  discussing  the  marriage-ideals  of 
the  East  and  the  West,  and  the  conclusion 
of  the  whole  was,  that  there  was  something 
in  each,  with  which  as  yet,  the  world  could 
ill  afford  to  part."  It  was  this  conviction  that 
led  him  to  spend  so  much  time  examining  in- 
to differences  of  social  ideals,  as  between 
East  and  West. 

"In  India,"  he  said,  "the  wife  must  not 
dream  of  loving  even  a  son  as  she  loves  her 
husband.  She  must  be  Sati.  But  the  husband 
ought  not  to  love  his  wife  as  he  does  his 
mother.  Hence  a  reciprocated  affection  is 
not  thought  so  high  as  one  unreturned.  It  is 
'shopkeeping.'  The  joy  of  the  contact  of 
husband  and  wife  is  not  admitted  in  India. 



This  we  have  to  borrow  from  the  West.  Our 
ideal  needs  to  be  refreshed  by  yours.  And 
you,  in  turn,  need  something  of  our  devotion 
.to  motherhood." 

But  the  overwhelming  thought  that  his 
very  presence  carried  home  to  the  mind  was 
of  the  infinite  superiority  of  that  life  which 
seeks  only  the  freedom  of  the  soul  and  the 
service  of  all,  to  that  which  looks  for  comfort 
and  the  sweetness  of  home.  He  knew  well 
enough  the  need  that  great  workers  may  feel 
of  being  encircled  by  subordinated  human 
lives.  "You  need  not  mind,"  he  said  once, 
turning  to  a  disciple  with  great  tenderness 
and  compassion,  "You  need  not  mind,  if 
these  shadows  of  home  and  marriage  cross 
your  mind  sometimes.  Even  to  me,  they 
come  now  and  again  !"  And  again,  hearing 
of  an  expression  of  intense  loneliness  on  the 
part  of  a  friend,  he  exclaimed.  "Every  worker 
feels  like  that  at  times  !" 

But  infinite  danger  lay,  to  his  thinking,  in 



a  false  exaltation  of  any  social  ideal  at  the 
risk  of  jeopardising  the  eternal  supremacy  of 
the  super-social.  "Never  forget  to  say  to  all 
whom  you  teach,"  he  charged  one  of  his  dis- 
ciples solemnly,  "that  like  a  little  fire-fly  be- 
side the  brightness  of  the  sun,  like  a  grain  of 
sand  beside  the  vastness  of  Mount  Meru,  SO 
is  the  life  of  the  citizen  compared  with  that 
of  the  Sannyasin  !" 

He  knew  the  danger  that  lay  here,  of 
spiritual  pride,  and  his  own  means  of  over- 
coming this  lay  in  bowing  himself  down  to 
any  one,  whether  monk  or  householder,  who 
was  disciple  and  devotee  of  his  own  Master, 
Sri  Ramakrishna.  But  to  abate  the  dictum 
itself,  would  have  been,  in  his  eyes,  to  have 
minimised  the  ideal,  and  this  he  could  not  do. 
Instead,  he  felt  that  one  of  the  most  impor- 
tant responsibilities  lying,  in  the  present  age, 
upon  the  religious  orders,  was  the  preaching 
of  monastic  ideals  even  in  marriage,  in  order 
that  the  more  difficult  might  always  exercise 



its  compelling  and  restraining  force  upon  the 
easier,  path;  and  that  the  false  glamour  of 
romance, — obscuring  the  solitary  grandeur 
and  freedom  of  the  soul,  as  the  ultimate  aim, 
in  the  name  of  an  interesting  and  absorbing 
companionship, — might  be  utterly  destroyed. 
All  the  disciples  of  Ramakrishna  believe 
that  marriage  is  finally  perfected  by  the  man's 
acceptance  of  his  wife  as  the  mother  ;  and 
this  means,  by  their  mutual  adoption  of  the 
monastic  life  It  is  a  moment  of  the  mer- 
gence of  the  human  in  the  divine,  by  which 
all  life  stands  thenceforward  changed.  The 
psychological  justification  of  this  ideal  is  said 
to  be  the  fact  that,  up  to  this  critical  point, 
the  relation  of  marriage  consists  in  a  cons- 
tant succession  of  a  two-fold  impulse,  the 
waxing  followed  by  the  waning,  of  affection. 
With  the  abandonment  of  the  external,  how- 
ever, impulse  is  transcended,  and  there  is  no- 
fluctuation.  Henceforth  the  beloved  is  wor- 
shipped in  perfect  steadfastness  of  mind.  ^ 



Yet  in  dealing  with  his  views  on  this 
question,  one  cannot  but  remember  his  utter- 
ance on  the  contrast  between  Hinduism  and 
Buddhism,  that  Sunday  morning  in  Kashmir, 
when  we  walked  under  the  avenue  of  poplars, 
and  listened  to  him  as  he  talked  of  Woman 
and  of  Caste.  "The  glory  of  Hinduism,"  he 
said  that  day,  "lies  in  the  fact  that  while  it 
has  defined  ideals,  it  has  never  dared  to  say 
that  any  one  of  these  alone  was  the  one  true 
way.  In  this  it  differs  from  Buddhism, 
which  exalts  monasticism  above  all  others, 
as  the  path  that  must  be  taken  by  all  souls 
to  reach  perfection.  The  story  given  in  the 
Mahabharata  of  the  young  saint  who  was 
made  to  seek  enlightenment,  first  from  a 
married  woman,  and  then  from  a  butcher,  is 
sufficient  to  show  this.  'By  doing  my  duty' 
said  each  one  of  these  when  asked,  'by  do- 
ing my  duty  in  my  own  station,  have  I 
attained  this  knowledge,'  There  is  no  career 
then,"  he  ended,  "which  might  not  be  the 



path  to  God.  The  question  of  attainment 
depends  only,  in  the  last  resort,  on  the  thirst 
of  the  soul." 

Thus  the  fact  that  all  life  is  great,  only  in 
proportion  to  its  expression  of  ideal  purity, 
was  not,  in  theory,  outside  the  Swami's 
acceptance,  however  much,  as  a  monk,  he 
shrank  from  interpretations  which  might  lead 
to  the  false  claim  that  marriage  was  chosen 
as  a  means  to  spirituality.  That  self-love 
constantly  leads  us  to  such  subtle  exaltation 
of  our  own  acts  and  motives,  he  was  well 
aware.  He  had  constantly,  he  told  us,  met 
with  *  persons,  in  Western  countries,  who 
urged  that  their  own  lives,  though  indolently 
passed  in  the  midst  of  luxury,  were  without 
selfishness  ;  that  only  the  claims  of  duty  kept 
them  in  the  world  ;  that  in  their  affections, 
they  were  able  to  realise  renunciation  with- 
out a  struggle.  On  all  such  illusions,  he 
poured  out  his  scorn.  "My  only  answer 
was,"  he  said,  "that  such  great  men  are  not 



born  in  India !  The  model  in  this  kind  was 
the  great  king  Janaka,  and  in  the  whole  of 
history  he  occurs  but  once  !"  In  connection 
with  this  particular  form  of  error,  he  would 
point  out  that  there  are  two  forms  of  idealism  ;. 
one  is  the  worship  and  exaltation  of  the  ideal 
itself,  the  other  is  the  glorification  of  that 
which  we  have  already  attained.  In  this 
second  case,  the  ideal  is  really  subordinated 
to  self. 

In  this  severity,  however,  there  was  no 
cynicism.  Those  who  have  read  our 
Master's  work  on  Devotion,  or  Bhakti 
Yoga,  will  remember  there  the  express  state- 
ment that  the  lover  always  sees  the  ideal 
in  the  beloved.  "Cling  to  this  vision !"" 
I  have  heard  of  his  saying — to  a  girl 
whose  love  for  another  stood  newly-con- 
fessed— "As  long  as  you  can  both  see  the 
ideal  in  one  another,  your  worship  and  happi- 
ness will  grow  more  instead  of  less." 

A  mongst  the  friends  of  our  Master  there 



was,  however,  one  middle-aged  woman  who 
was  never  satisfied  that,  in  his  intensity  of 
monasticism,  he  was  able  to  do  full  justice 
to  the  sacredness  and  helpfulness  of 
marriage.  She  had  herself  been  long  a 
widow,  after  an  unusually  blessed  experience 
of  married  life.  Very  naturally,  therefore,  it 
was  to  this  friend  that  he  turned,  when,  a 
few  weeks  before  the  end,  he  arrived  at  what 
he  knew  to  be  his  crowning  conviction  on 
this  whole  subject ;  and  his  letter  was  brought 
to  her  in  her  distant  home  by  the  same 
hand  that  was  carrying  also  the  telegraphic 
announcement  of  his  death.  In  this  letter, 
so  solemnly  destined,  he  says  : — "In  my 
opinion,  a  race  must  first  cultivate  a  great 
respect  for  motherhood,  through  the  sancti- 
fication  and  inviolability  of  marriage,  before 
it  can  attain  to  the  ideal  of  perfect 
chastity.  The  Roman  Catholics  and  the 
Hindus,  holding  marriage  sacred  and  in- 
violate, have  produced  great  chaste  men 



-and  women  of  immense  power.  To  the 
Arab,  marriage  is  a  contract,  or  a  forceful 
possession,  to  be  dissolved  at  will,  and  we 
do  not  find  there  the  development  of  the  ideal 
of  the  virgin,  or  the  brahmacharin.  Modern 
Buddhism, — having  fallen  among  races  who 
have  not  even  yet  come  up  to  the  evolution  of 
marriage — has  made  a  travesty  of  monasti- 
cism.  So,  until  there  is  developed  in  Japan 
a  great  and  sacred  ideal  about  marriage 
( apart  from  mutual  attraction  and  love  ),  I 
do  not  see  how  there  can  be  great  monks 
and  nuns.  As  you  have  come  to  see  that 
the  glory  of  life  is  chastity,  so  my  eyes  also 
have  been  opened  to  the  necessity  of  this 
great  sanctification  for  the  vast  majority, 
in  order  that  a  few  life-long  chaste  powers 
may  be  produced." 

There  are  some  of  us  who  feel  that  this 
letter  has  an  even  wider-reaching  significance 
than  he  himself  would  have  thought  of 
.ascribing  to  it.  It  was  the  last  sentence  in 



the  great  philosophy  which  saw  "in  the  Many 
and  the  One  the  same  Reality."  If  the 
inviolability  of  marriage  be  indeed  the  school 
in  which  a  society  is  made  ready  for  the 
highest  possibilities  of  the  life  of  solititude 
and  self-control,  then  the  honourable  fulfil- 
ment of  the  world's  work  is  as  sacred  a  means 
to  supreme  self-realisation,  as  worship  and 
prayer.  We  have  here,  then,  a  law  which 
enables  us  to  understand  the  discouragement 
of  religious  ecstasy,  by  Ramakrishna 
Paramahamsa,  and  his  great  preference  for 
character,  in  his  disciples.  We  understand, 
too,  the  inner  meaning  of  Vivekananda's 
own  constant  preaching  of  strength.  The 
reason  is  very  simple.  If  "the  Many  and  the 
One  be  the  same  Reality,  seen  by  the  same 
mind  at  different  times,  and  in  different 
attitudes,"  then,  in  three  words,  Character  is 
Spirituality.  "Greatness"  really  is,  as  a  deep 
thinker  has  affirmed,  "to  take  the  common 
things  of  life,  and  walk  truly  amongst  them  ; 



and  holiness  a  great  love  and  much  serving." 
These  simple  truths  may  prove  after  all,  to 
be  the  very  core  of  the  new  gospel.  And 
in  endorsement  of  this  possibility,  we  have 
the  Master's  own  words"  The  highest  truth 
is  always  the  simplest." 






INDIA  is  undoubtedly  the  land  of  the  un- 
derstanding of  psychology.  To  Hindus, 
more  than  to  any  other  race,  it  may  be  said 
that  men  appear  as  minds.  Concentration 
of  mind  is  to  them  the  ideal  of  life.  Such 
differences  as  between  talent  and  genius, 
between  ordinary  goodness  and  the  highest 
sainthood,  between  moral  weakness  and 
power,  are  by  them  understood  as  simple 
differences  in  degree  of  concentration.  This 
pre-occupation  of  the  race  is  partly  cause, 
and  partly  effect,  doubtless,  of  the  fact  that 
the  study  of  psychology  has  been  organised 
in  India  as  a  science,  from  the  earliest  times. 
Long  before  the  value  of  writing,  for  the 
notation  of  knowledge,  was  even  suspected, 


the  quiet  registration  of  phenomena  in  the 
communal  consciousness,  had  begun,  by  the 
interchange  of  ideas  and  observations.  Mil- 
lenniums before  instruments  and  labora- 
tories could  be  thought  of,  as  having  any 
bearing  on  scientific  enquiry  in  general,  the 
age  of  experiment  was  fully  developed 
amongst  the  Indian  people,  with  regard 
to  this  most  characteristic  of  their  sciences. 

It  is  not  surprising  that  in  the  singularly 
wide  range  of  knowledge  thus  accumulated 
in  India,  many  phenomena  of  the  mind, 
which  appear  to  the  less  informed  West  as 
abnormal  or  miraculous,  should  be  duly 
noted  and  classified.  Thus  hypnotism,  and 
many  obscure  forms  of  hyperastkesis  and 
hyperkinesis, — the  most  familiar  of  these 
being  healing,  thought-reading,  clairvoyance, 
and  clairaudience — offer  no  overwhelming 
difficulty  to  the  student  of  the  ancient 
Indian  psychology,  or  Raja  Yoga,  as  it  is 



We  all  know  that  the  great  value  of 
scientific  thought  lies  in  enabling  us  to  re- 
cognise and  record  phenomena.  It  matters 
little  that  a  disease  is  rare,  if  only  it  be  once 
noted  as  within  the  field  of  medical  practice, 
It  has  a  place  thenceforth,  in  the  human 
mind.  It  is  no  miracle,  only  because,  sooner 
or  later,  it  will  be  classified.  It  has  a  name. 
The  conjunction  of  diagnosis  and  treatment 
is  now  a  question  of  time  only. 

Something  of  the  same  sort  applies  to- 
the  trustworthy  fraction  o  what  are  com- 
monly referred  to  as  "  psychic  phenomena." 
Occurrences  falling  under  this  head,  when 
authentic,  are  obviously  no  more  superna- 
tural than  the  liquefaction  of  air,  or  the 
extraction  of  radium.  Indeed  the  propriety 
of  the  word  '  supernatural  '  is  always  open  to- 
dispute,  inasmuch  as  if  once  a  thing  can  be 
proved  to  occur,  it  is  clearly  within  nature, 
and  to  call  it  supernatural  becomes  by  that 
very  fact,  absurd.  In  India  the  phenomena 



in  question  are  regarded  as  cases  of  extension 
of  faculty,  and  their  explanation  is  sought, 
not  in  the  event,  but  in  the  state  of  the  mind 
witnessing  it,  since  it  is  to  be  supposed  that 
this  will  always,  under  given  conditions, 
register  a  perception  different  from  the 

In  Ramakrishna  Paramahamsa,  living  in 
the  garden  of  Dakshineshwar,  his  disciples 
had  been  familiar,  for  years,  with  many  of 
those  mental  characteristics  which  are  noted 
in  the  books  as  distinctive  of  the  highest 
degree  of  concentration.  He  was  so  respon- 
sive that  he  would  meet  them  at  the  door  on 
their  arrival,  and  begin  at  once  to  answer, 
without  being  told  of  them,  the  questions  that 
the  boys  carried  written  in  their  pockets. 
His  perceptions  were  so  fine  that  he  could 
tell  by  touch  the  character  of  anyone  who 
might  already  have  come  in  contact  with  his 
food,  his  clothes,  or  his  mat.  It  "burnt"  him, 
he  said,  of  an  impress  from  which  he  shrank  ; 



or,  on  another  occasion,  "  Look  !  I  can  eat 
this.  The  sender  must  have  been  some  good 
soul !"  His  nervous  system,  again,  had  been 
so  charged  with  certain  ideas  that  even  in 
sleep  he  shrank  from  the  touch  of  metal,  and 
his  hand  would,  apparently  of  its  own  accord, 
restore  a  book  or  a  fruit,  whose  return  to  its 
owner  the  conscious  mind  had  failed  to 

No  Indian  psychologist  would  say  of 
one  of  the  world-seers  that  he  had  talked 
with  angels,  but  only  that  he  had  known 
how  to  reach  a  mood  in  which  he  believed 
himself  to  talk  with  angels.  Of  this  condi- 
tion, the  disciples  of  Sri  Ramakrishna  saw 
plentiful  examples.  Stories  are  still  current 
amongst  them,  regarding  the  strangeness  of 
the  sensations  with  which  they  would  listen 
to  one  side  of  a  dialogue,  or  one  part  in  a 
conversation,  which  might  seem  to  be 
carried  on  for  hours  at  a  time  ;  while  their 
Master,  resting  quietly,  evidently  believed 



himself  to  be  holding  communion  with  beings 
invisible  to  them. 

Behind  all  these  manifold  experiences  of 
Ramakrishna,  binding  them  into  one  great 
life,  was  always  the  determination  to  serve 
mankind.  Vivekananda  spoke  of  him  in 
after  years  as  'writhing  on  the  ground'  during 
the  hours  of  darkness,  in  the  agony  of  his 
prayer  that  he  might  return  to  earth  again, 
even  as  a  dog,  if  only  he  might  aid  a  single 
soul.  In  moments  less  intimate  and  hidden 
than  these,  he  would  speak  of  the  temptation 
of  the  higher  realisations,  to  draw  the  soul 
away  from  conditions  of  service.  And  his 
disciples  connected  with  this  such  odd  utter- 
ances as  they  would  sometimes  hear,  at  the 
end  of  a  deep  entrancement,  when  their 
Master  seemed  to  be  like  a  child  coaxing  his 
Mother  to  let  him  run  away  from  Her  to 
play.  'Just  one  more'  act  of  service,  or  'one 
more'  little  enjoyment  would  be  urged,  on 
such  an  occasion,  as  a  motive  for  returning 



to  common  consciousness.  That  return,  how- 
ever, always  brought  with  it  the  infinite  love 
and  insight  of  one  who  had  been  lost  in  God. 
When  the  Swami  Vivekananda,  on  the  occa- 
sion of  his  Harvard  Address,  defines  this  as 
the  differentia  between  the  unconsciousness 
of  Samadki,  and  the  unconsciousness  of 
catalepsy,  we  may  take  it  that  the  assurance 
which  breathes  in  every  syllable,  arose  from 
his  having  constantly  witnessed  the  transi- 
tion, in  his  Master. 

There  were  still  other  remarkable  traits 
in  Sri  Ramakrishna.  He  had  his  own  ner- 
vous force  so  entirely  under  control  that  he 
could  remove  all  consciousness  from  his 
throat,  for  instance,  during  his  last  illness, 
.and  allow  it  to  be  operated  on,  as  if  under  a 
local  anaesthetic.  His  faculties  of  obser- 
vation, again,  were  quite  unique.  The  small- 
est detail  of  the  physical  constitution  had  a 
meaning  for  him,  as  casting  light  on  the 
.personality  within.  He  would  throw  the 



disciple  who  had  just  come  to  him  into  an* 
hypnotic  sleep,  and  learn  from  his  subconsci- 
ous mind,  in  a  few  minutes,  all  that  was 
lodged  there,  concerning  the  far  past.  Each 
little  act  and  word,  insignificant  to  others, 
was  to  him  like  a  straw,  borne  on  the  great 
current  of  character,  and  showing  the  direc- 
the  of  its  flow.  There  were  times,  he  said,  when 
men  and  women  seemed  to  him  like  glass, 
and  he  could  look  them  through  and 

Above  all,  he  could  by  his  touch  give 
flashes  of  supreme  insight,  which  exercised 
a  formative  and  compelling  power  over 
whole  lives.  In  the  matter  of  Samadhi  this 
is  well-known,  especially  in  reference  ta 
women-visitors  at  Dakshineshwar.  But 
beyond  this,  a  story  was  told  me  by  a 
simple  soul,  of  a  certain  day  during  the  last 
few  weeks  of  Sri  Ramakrishna's  life,  when 
he  came  out  into  the  garden  at  Cossipore, 
and  placed  his  hand  on  the  heads  of  a  row  of 



persons,  one  after  another,  saying  in  one 
case,  "AjtliakT  "To-day  let  be  !"  in  an- 
other, ^Chaitanya  honk  !"  "Be  awakened  !" 
and  so  on.  And  after  this,  a  different  gift 
came  to  each  one  thus  blessed.  In  one  there- 
awoke  an  infinite  sorrow.  To  janother,  every 
thing  about  him  became  symbolic,  and 
suggested  ideas.  With  a  third,  the  benedic- 
tion was  realised  as  over-welling  bliss.  And 
one  saw  a  great  light,  which  never  there- 
after left  him,  but  accompanied  him  always 
everywhere,  so  that  never  could  he  pass  a 
temple,  or  a  wayside  shrine,  without  seeming 
to  see  there,  seated  in  the  midst  of  this 
effulgence, — smiling  or  sorrowful  as  he  at 
the  moment  might  deserve — a  Form  that  he 
knew  and  talked  of  as  "the  Spirit  that  dwells 
in  the  images.  " 

By  such  stimulating  of  each  man  to  his 
own  highest  and  best,  or  by  such  communi- 
cation of  experience  as  one  and  another  could 
bear  at  the  time,  Ramakrishna  Paramahamsa 



built  up  the  rigorous  integrity  and  strong 
discrimination  that  one  sees  in  all  who  were 
made  by  his  hand.  "We  believe  nothing 
without  testing  it,"  says  one — Ramakrishna- 
nanda  by  name — "  we  have  been  trained  to 
this."  And  when  I  enquired  from  another 
of  the  disciples  what  particular  form  this 
tiaining  took,  he  answered,  after  deep 
thought,  that  it  lay  in  some  experience  given 
of  the  Reality,  from  which  each  gained  a 
knowledge  that  could  never  be  deceived. 
"  By  our  own  effort,"  says  Vivekananda,  in 
one  of  his  earlier  lectures,  "or  by  the  mercy 
0f  some  great  perfected  soul,  we  reach  the 

Now  the  life  of  the  guru  is  the  disciple's 
treasure  in  hand  ;  and  it  was  undoubtedly 
by  an  instantaneous  analysis  of  all  that  he 
had  seen  and  shared,  of  the  extensions  pos- 
sible to  human  faculty,  that  the  Swami  was 
able,  on  his  arrival  in  the  Western  sphere  of 
psychical  enquiry,  to  classify  all  knowledge 



as  sub-conscious,  conscious,  and  super-consci- 
ous. The  two  first  terms  were  in  common 
enough  use,  in  Europe  and  America.  The 
third,  he  himself  added  to  the  psychological 
vocabulary,  by  a  masterly  stroke  of  insight, 
authenticated  by  his  own  personal  know- 
ledge. "  Consciousness,"  he  said  on  one 
occasion,  "is  a  mere  film  between  two 
oceans,  the  sub-conscious  and  the  supercon- 
scious."  Again  he  exclaimed  "  I  could  not 
believe  my  own  ears,  when  I  heard  Western 
people  talking  so  much  of  consciousness  / 
Consciousness  ?  What  does  consciousness 
matter !  Why,  it  is  NOTHING,  as  compared 
with  the  unfathomable  depths  of  the  sub-, 
and  the  heights  of  the  super-conscious  !  In 
this  I  could  never  be  misled,  for  had  I  not 
seen  Ramakrishna  Paramahamsa  gather  in 
ten  minutes,  from  a  man's  sub-conscious 
mind,  the  whole  of  his  past,  and  determine 
from  that  his  future  and  his  powers  ?  " 

The  certainty  of  the  dictum  laid  down  in 



Raja  Yoga  that  intuition,  when  genuine,, 
can  never  contradict  reason,  is  also  indisput- 
ably due  to  the  same  comprehensive  range 
of  experience.  The  ascetic  of  Dakshin- 
eshwar  might  be  capable  of  unusual  modes 
of  insight,  but  he  was  no  victim  of  the  vani- 
ty born  thereof,  to  be  seeking  for  uncommon 
ways  of  arriving  at  facts  that  were  accessible 
enough  by  ordinary  methods.  When  a 
strange  religious  came  to  visit  the  garden, 
professing  to  be  able  to  live  without  food, 
Ramakrishna  Paramahamsa  attempted  no- 
clairvoyant  mode  of  testing  him,  but  simply 
set  shrewd  observers  to  watch  and  bring  him 
word  as  to  what  and  where  he  was  in  the 
habit  of  eating. 

Nothing  was  to  be  accepted,  unproven, 
and  the  Swami  Vivekananda,  to  his  dying 
day,  had  a  horror  of  those  dreams,  previsions, 
and  prophecies  by  which  ordinary  folk  are 
so  apt  to  try  to  dominate  one  another. 
These  things,  as  was  inevitable,  were  offered 



to  him  in  abundance,  but  he  invariably  met 
them  with  defiance,  leaving  them  to  work 
themselves  out,  if  they  were  true,  in  spite  of 
him.  Whether  a  given  foretelling  would 
eventually  be  verified  or  not,  it  was  im- 
possible for  him,  he  said,  to  know  :  the  one 
thing  of  which  he  was  sure  was,  that  if  he 
once  obeyed  it,  he  would  never  again  be 
allowed  to  go  free. 

In  the  case  of  Sri  Ramakrishna,  it  invari- 
ably happened  that  visions  and  intuitions 
were  directed  to  things  of  the  spirit  ;  gipsy- 
like  prognostications  were  far  from  him  ;. 
and  in  the  opinion  of  his  disciples,  such 
prognostications  are  always  indicative  of 
a  greater  or  less  mis-using  of  energy.  "  All 
these  are  side-issues,"  said  the  Swami,  "they 
are  not  true  Yoga.  They  may  have  a 
certain  usefulness,  in  establishing  indirectly 
the  truth  of  our  statements.  Even  a  little 
glimpse  gives  faith  that  there  is  something 
beyond  gross  matter.  Yet  those  who- 



spend  time  on  such  things  run  into  grave 
dangers."  "These  are  frontier  questions  !  " 
he  exclaimed  impatiently,  on  another  occa- 
sion, "there  can  never  be  any  certainty  or 
stability  of  knowledge,  reached  by  their 
means.  Did  I  not  say  they  were  '  frontier- 
questions  '  ?  The  boundary-line  is  always 
shifting ! " 

In  all  that  might  come  before  us,  the 
attempt  at  discrimination  was  to  be  main- 
lained.  'I  shall  accept  it  when  I  have 
experienced  it,'  was  to  be  the  reply  to  state- 
ments of  the  extraordinary.  But  our  own 
experience  was  to  be  sifted  thoroughly.  We 
were  not  to  run  away  with  the  first  explana- 
tion of  a  phenomenon  that  might  occur  to  us. 
In  spite  of  his  reluctance  to  accept  easy 
conclusions,  however,  the  Swami  became 
convinced,  in  the  course  of  years,  of  the 
occasional  return  of  persons  from  the  dead,  "I 
have  several  times  in  my  life  seen  ghosts," 
he  said  once,  with  great  deliberateness, 


"and  once,  in  the  week  after  the  death  of  Srf 
Ramakrishna,  I  saw  a  luminous  ghost."  But 
this  did  not  imply  the  smallest  respect  on 
his  part,  for  the  bulk  of  the  experiments 
known  as  spiritualistic  seances.  Of  a  famous 
convert  whom  he  met  on  one  such  occasion, 
he  said  that  it  was  sad  to  find  a  man  of 
extraordinary  intelligence  in  matters  of  the 
world,  leaving  all  his  intelligence  behind 
him  at  the  doors  of  a  so-called  medium.  In 
America  he  had  been  present  at  a  number 
of  seances  as  a  witness,  and  he  regarded  the 
great  majority  of  the  phenomena  displayed 
as  grossly  fraudulent.  "Always  the  great- 
est fraud  by  the  simplest  means,"  he  said,, 
summing  up  his  observations.  Another  large 
fraction  of  the  total,  he  thought,  were  better 
explained  by  subjective  methods,*  than  as 
objectively  true.  If,  after  all  these  deduc- 

*  Thus  a  well-known  thought-reader  in  Southern  India  claimed 
that  an  invisible  female  figure  stood  beside  him,  and  told  him 
what  to  say.  "I  did  not  like  this  explanation,"  said  the  Swami, 
"  and  set  myself  to  find  another."  He  came  to  the  conclusion 
that  the  source  of  information  was  subjective. 



tions  had  been  made,  any  residuum  remain- 
ed, it  was  possible  that  this  might  be  genu- 
inely what  it,  professed. 

But  even  if  so,  knowledge  of  the  pheno- 
menal could  never  be  the  goal  of  effort.  The 
return  of  wandering  wills  from  one  plane  of 
physical  tension  to  another  could  throw  but 
little  light  on  any  true  concept  of  immor- 
tality. Only  by  renunciation  could  this  be 
reached.  Any  dwelling  upon  the  occult  led 
inevitably,  in  the  Swami's  opinion,  to  in- 
crease of  desire,  to  increase  of  egotism,  and 
to  the  fall  into  untruth.  If  the  ordinary 
good  of  life  was  to  be  given  up,  for  the  sake 
of  the  soul,  how  much  more  assuredly  so, 
these  vanities  of  supernatural  power  !  Even 
Christianity  would  have  seemed  to  him  a 
higher  creed,  if  it  had  had  no  miracles. 
Buddha's  abhorrence  of  wonders  was  the 
eternal  glory  of  Buddhism.  At  best  their 
value  could  only  be  to  give  a  little  confidence, 
and  that  only  for  the  first  steps.  "If  there 



be  powers,  they  shall  vanish  away  ;  charity 
alone  remaineth."  Only  to  the  soul  that  is 
strong  enough  to  avoid  these  temptations 
does  the  door  stand  open.  In  the  words  of 
Patanjali,  "To  him  who  is  able  to  reject  all 
the  powers,  comes  the  cloud  of  virtue."  He 
, alone  attains  the  very  highest. 




ONE  of  the  most  impressive  forms  of 
teaching  practised  by  our  Master  was  a 
certain  silent  change  wrought  in  the  disciple 
unawares,  by  his  presence.  One's  whole 
attitude  to  things  was  reversed  ;  one  took 
fire,  as  it  were,  with  a  given  idea  ;  or  one 
suddenly  found  that  a  whole  habit  of  thought 
had  left  one,  and  a  new  opinion  grown  up 
in  its  place,  without  the  interchange  of  a 
single  word  on  the  subject.  It  seemed  as  if 
a  thing  had  passed  beyond  the  realm  of  dis- 
cussion, and  knowledge  had  grown,  by  the 
mere  fact  of  nearness  to  him.  It  was  in  this 
way  that  questions  of  taste  and  value  became 
indifferent.  It  was  in  this  way  that  the 
longing  for  renunciation  was  lighted,  like  a 
devouring  flame,  in  the  hearts  of  those  about 



him.  And  to  nothing  could  this  statement  be 
more  applicable,  than  to  the  idea  of  death 
that  one  seemed  to  imbibe  from  him. 

In  his  own  life-time,  he  became  more 
and  more  averse  to  any  definite  laying- 
down  of  the  law,  on  this  subject.  "  I 
suppose  so,  I  do  not  know,  "  would  be  his 
answer,  to  one  who  was  striving  to  piece  out 
the  eternal  puzzle.  He  probably  felt  that 
one  of  the  subtlest  forms  of  self-interest  lay 
in  delightful  dreams  of  a  future  happiness, 
and  he  dreaded  adding  to  the  ignorance  of 
desire,  by  any  emphasis  laid  on  the  condi- 
tions of  life  outs' de  the  body.  In  death,  as 
in  life,  for  himself,  God  was  the  only  means, 
and  Nirvana  was  the  goal.  '  The  highest 
Samadhi  was  all  that  counted  :  all  the  rest 
was  wild  oats.'  Yet  this  very  fact  sheds  all 
the  brighter  light  on  the  way  in  which  one's 
thought  of  death  changed  under  him  ;  and 
makes  the  more  precious,  those  two  or  three 
letters,  in  which  personal  experience  and 



sympathy  strike  from  him  a  definite  expres- 
sion of  opinion. 

For  my  own  part,  when  I  first  met  the 
Swami,  I  had  felt  driven,  for  many  years 
past,  to  hold  that,  whatever  our  wishes 
might  be,  we  had  no  actual  reason  to 
imagine  any  survival  of  personality,  beyond 
the  death  of  the  body.  Such  a  thing  was 
either  impossible  or  unthinkable.  If  we  had 
no  personal  experience  of  body  without 
mind, — the  experiencing  medium, — it  was 
equally  true  that  we  knew  nothing  whatever 
of  mind  without  body.  Hence,  if  mind  were 
not  actually  the  result  of  body — "  a  note 
struck  upon  the  harp-strings " — we  must 
suppose  it,  at  best,  to  be  only  the  opposite 
pole  of  a  single  substance.  The  two — body 
and  mind,  not  matter  and  mind — were  one, 
and  the  idea  of  the  persistence  of  personality 
was  a  mere  shadow,  born  of  animal  instinct. 
Ethical  conduct,  rising  even  to  supreme 
self-sacrifice,  was  determined  at  bottom, 



by    our  personal  preference  for  gratifications 
that  were  socially  beneficent.* 

These  positions  were  undermined,  in 
my  own  case,  by  the  weight  and  emphasis 
which  the  Indian  thinker  habitually  threw 
on  MIND,  as  the  pivot  of  life.  What  the 
modern  really  believes  is  that  man  is  a 
body.  Here  the  Oriental  stands  in  sharp 
and  instinctive  contrast  to  him.  As  the 
Swami  pointed  out,  "Western  languages 
declare  that  man  is  a  body,  and  has  a  soul : 

*  Something  like  this  may  be  taken  as  the  characteristic 
thought  of  Europe  about  death,  during  the  second  half  of  the 
nineteenth  century.  "  Is  the  soul,"  said  one  thinker,  "  a  note 
struck  upon  the  harpstrings,  or  the  rower  seated  in  a  boat  ?  "  Recent 
talk  of  the  disintegration  of  matter,  has  now  made  it  easy, 
even  for  scientific  workers,  "to  conceive  of  a  cycle — call  it  mind 
— in  which  matter  practically  is  not."  But  even  so,  there  remains 
jet  to  be  worked  out,  as  far  as  the  west  is  concerned,  the 
transition,  from  the  individual  mind  and  body  to  this  sum  of 
mind  and  matter  into  which  both  may  be  resumed.  It  is  not 
intended,  here,  to  imply  that  ethical  conduct  ultimately  rests,  in 
any  creed,  on  a  belief  in  the  immortality  of  the  soul  ;  but  only 
to  contrast  the  agnostic  view  of  a  spiritual  life  built  up  from  below, 
and  the  Hindu  idea  of  a  physical  consciousness,  which  is  after  all, 
merely  an  expression  and  mask  of  the  spiritual  life,  with  its  insatiable 
thirst,  not  for  self-preservation,  but  for  self-immolation.  The 
modern  reasons  from  seen  to  unseen  ;  from  detail  to  general  ;  the 
Hindu  reasons  from  universal  to  particular,  and  maintains  that 
in  this  specific  case  that  is  the  true  method  of  reasoning,  the  life 
of  the  soul  being,  in  fact,  the  only  known. 



Eastern  languages  declare  that  he  is  a  soul,, 
and  has  a  body." 

As  a  result  of  the  new  hypothesis,  I 
began  to  speak  to  people,  first  postulating 
to  myself  experimentally,  that  I  was  ad- 
dressing the  mind  within,  not  the  ear  without. 
The  immense  increase  of  response  that  this 
evoked,  led  me  from  step  to  step,  till  twelve 
months  later,  I  suddenly  found  that  I  had 
fallen  into  the  habit  of  thinking  of  mind 
as  dominant,  and  could  no  longer  imagine 
ts  being  extinguished  by  the  death  of  the 
body !  Every  new  practice  deepened  this 
conviction,  and  I  became  gradually  possessed 
of  a  conception  of  the  world  about  us  as 
mind-born,  while  the  occurrence  of  any  great 
and  sudden  change  in  our  thought-world, 
at  a  definite  physical  moment,  began  to- 
seem  absurd. 

The  Swami's  thought  on  the  question 
went,  however,  much  deeper  than  this.  His 
was  the  perpetual  effort  to  avoid  slipping: 



into  any  identification  of  himself  with  the 
body.  He  would  never  even  use  the  word 
44 1  "  in  any  sense  that  might  be  so  construed, 
preferring,  rather  quaintly  to  an  English 
ear,  to  give  a  slight  gesture,  with  the  words 
''all  this."  But  he  also  fought  shy  ot  the 
danger  of  admitting  that  the  life  of  the 
senses,  limited  as  this  is  by  the  alternating 
opposites,  was  '  life '  at  all.  Victory  or 
defeat,  love  or  hate,  efficiency  or  ineffective- 
ness, being  each  only  a  partial  apprehension, 
could  never,  amongst  them,  make  up  ab- 
solute existence.  Hundreds  of  lives  like 
the  present,  each  bound  in  its  own  time  to 
have  an  end,  could  never,  as  he  expressed 
it,  satisfy  our  hunger  for  immortality.  For 
that,  nothing  would  do  but  the  attainment 
of  deatklessness,  and  this  could  never  be 
interpreted  as  in  any  sense  the  multiplication 
or  exaltation  of  life  within  the  senses,  To 
be  of  any  security,  it  must  be  possible  to 
realise  such  deathlessness  during  this  present 



life,  for  how  else  could  the  transcendence 
of  bodily  experience  be  assured  ?  Western 
people  were  in  the  habit  of  saying  that  'the 
soul  comes  and  goes',  thus  betraying  their 
own  tendency  to  identify  themselves  with 
the  body,  watching  the  entrance  and  exit  of 
a  higher  entity.  The  speech  of  the  Kentish 
Druid  who  welcomed  Augustine  was  typical 
of  all  who  held  this  world  to  be  the  warm 
and  lighted  hall,  and  the  soul  a  sparrow, 
taking  brief  refuge  there,  from  the  wintry 
storms  without.  Yet  in  this  concept,  there 
were  to  the  full  as  many  assumptions,  as  in 
its  opposite.  To  one  who  was  impelled 
irresistibly  upon  the  hypothesis  that  we  are 
not  an  aggregate  of  physical  units  at  all, 
but  a  hyper-physical  unity,  holding  these  in 
suspension,  to  such  a  one  it  was  equally  clear 
that  we  really  know  only  that  "the  body 
comes  and  goes" 

By   this   constant   insistence  on   man   as 
mind,  not  body,  those  with  whom  the  Swami 



was  associated  were  brought  to  see  death  as 
no  terminal  fatality,  but  only  a  link  from  the 
midst  of  a  chain,  in  the  experience  of  the 
soul.  Our  whole  centre  of  vision  was  thus 
shifted.  Instead  of  the  lighted  hall,  this 
life  became  for  us  the  prison  of  hypnotic 
trance,  a  broken  somnambulistic  dream. 
What !  was  utterance  to  be  for  ever  limited 
and  conditioned  by  human  language  ?  Were 
there  not  flashes,  even  as  it  was,  of  some- 
thing that  transcended  this,  something  that 
compelled  without  words  ;  that  illuminated 
without  teaching ;  communion  direct,  pro- 
found ?  Must  knowledge  remain  for  ever 
relative,  for  ever  based  on  the  dim 
and  common-place  perceptions  of  the 
senses,  for  ever  finding  expression,  in  the 
hard  and  narrow  issues  of  conduct  ?  Well 
might  the  Swami  exclaim,  as  he  did  in 
the  course  of  a  New  York  lecture,  almost 
with  a  groan,  "Man,  the  infinite  dreamer, 
dreaming  finite  dreams !" 



By  his  scorn  of  such,  by  his  own  pas- 
sionate longing  to  wander  off,  silent  and 
nude,  along  the  banks  of  the  Ganges,  by 
his  constant  turning  to  the  super-conscious 
as  the  only  content  of  consciousness  to  be 
desired,  by  his  personal  attitude  to  the 
relationships  of  life  as  so  many  fetters  and 
impedimenta  to  the  freedom  of  the  soul, 
Vivekanands  built  up  in  those  about  him 
some  sort  of-  measure  of  Real  Existence, 
and  the  idea  that  the  mere  fall  of-  the  body 
could  seriously  interrupt  this,  became  im- 
possible. We  were  saturated  with  the 
thought  that  the  accessories  of  life  were  but 
so  many  externals  of  a  passing  dream,  and 
it  seemed  obvious  that  we  should  go  on- 
wards, after  death,  much  as  we  were  doing 
before  it,  with  only  such  added  intensity  and 
speed  as  might  be  due  to  the  subtler 
medium  in  which  we  should  find  ourselves. 
It  seemed  obvious  too,  that,  as  he  declared, 
an  eternal  heaven  or  hell,  based  on  the  deeds 



of  this  present  life,  was  an  absurdity,  since 
a  finite  cause  could  not,  by  any  means,  have 
an  infinite  effect. 

Yet  the  Swami  laid  down  no  hard  and 
fast  conclusions  on  these  subjects,  for  others 
to  accept.  He  carried  those  about  him  at 
any  given  time,  as  far  as  they  could  go,  by 
the  force  of  his  own  vision,  by  the  energy 
of  his  effort  to  express  in  words  the  thing 
he  himself  saw.  But  he  would  have  nothing 
to  do  with  dogma,  and  he  was  exceedingly 
averse  to  making  promises  about  the  future. 
As  already  said.  "I  do  not  know"  became 
more  and  more  his  answer,  as  years  went 
on  to  questions  about  the  fate  of  the  soul 
in  death.  Each  one,  to  his  thinking,  must 
work  out  his  own  belief,  basing  it  on  the  data 
of  his  own  experience.  Nothing  that  he 
should  say  must  ever  interfere  with  the  free 
growth  of  personal  conviction. 

Some  things,  however,  were  noticeable. 
He  appeared  to  share  the  common  assump- 



tion  that  after  death  we  meet  again  and  'talk 
things  out',  so  to  speak,  with  those  who  have 
preceded  us.  "When  I  stand  before  the  old 
man,"  he  would  say  with  a  smile  of  whim- 
sical tenderness,  "  I  must  not  have  to  tell 
him  so  and  so  !  "  Nor  did  I  ever  see  in 
him  any  struggle  against  this  assumption. 
He  appeared  to  take  it  simply,  as  one  of  the 
facts  of  life. 

A  man  who  has  once  reached  the 
Nirvikalpa  Samadhi  must  have  passed 
through  many  psychological  conditions  on. 
the  way,  correspondent  to  disembodiment. 
He  must  be  accessible,  during  such  phases, 
to  experiences  from  which  we  are  ordinarily 
debarred.  Now  and  again,  as  the  Swami 
believed,  he  had  met  and  held  converse  with 
the  spirits  of  the  dead.  To  some  one  who- 
spoke  of  the  terror  of  the  supernatural,  he 
said  "This  is  always  a  sign  of  imagination.  On 
that  day  when  you  really  meet  what  we  call  a 
ghost,  you  will  know  no  fear  !''  There  is  a. 



story  told,  amongst  his  brethren,  of  certain- 
suicides  who  came  to  him  at  Madras,  urging 
him  to  join  them,  and  disturbing  him  great- 
ly by  the  statement  that  his  mother  was 
dead.  Having  ascertained  by  enquiry  that 
his  mother  was  well,  he  remonstrated  with 
these  souls  for  their  untruthfulness,  but  was 
answered  that  they  were  now  in  such  unrest 
and  distress  that  the  telling  of  truth  or 
falsehood  was  indifferent  to  them.  They 
begged  him  to  set  them  at  peace,  and  he 
went  out  to  the  seashore  at  night,  to  perform 
a  Shraddh  for  them.  But  when  he  came  to 
that  place,  in  the  service,  where  offerings 
should  be  made,  he  had  nothing  to  offer,  and 
knew  not  what  to  do.  Then  he  remember- 
ed an  old  book  that  said,  in  the  absence  of 
all  other  means  of  sacrifice,  sand  might 
be  used,  and  taking  up  great  handfuls  of 
sand,  he  stood  there  on  the  shore  casting 
it  into  the  sea,  and  with  his  whole  mind 
sending  benediction  to  the  dead.  And 



those  souls  had  rest.  They  troubled  him 
no  more. 

Another  experience  that  he  could 
never  forget,  was  his  glimpse  of  Sri 
Ramakrishna,  in  the  week  succeeding 
his  death.  It  was  night.  He,  and 
one  other  were  sitting  outside.  the 
house  at  Cossipore,  talking,  no  doubt,  of 
that  loss  of  which  their  hearts  at  the 
moment  were  so  full.  Their  Master  had 
left  them,  only  some  few  days  before. 
Suddenly,  the  Swami  saw  a  shining  form 
enter  the  garden,  and  draw  near  to 
them....  "What  was  that  ?  What  was  that  ?" 
said  his  friend,  in  a  hoarse  whisper,  a  few 
minutes  later.  It  had  been  one  of  those 
rare  cases  in  which  an  apparition  is  seen  by 
two  persons  at  once. 

Experiences  like  these  could  not  fail  to 
create  a  body  of  belief  in  the  mind  that 
went  through  them,  and  in  a  letter  written 
from  Thousand  Island  Park,  dated  August 


1895,  tne  Swami  gives  expression  to  this^ 
conviction.  He  says  :  "  The  older  I  grow, 
the  deeper  I  see  into  the  idea  of  the  Hindus 
that  man  is  the  greatest  of  all  beings. 
The  only  so-called  higher  beings  are  the 
departed,  and  these  are  nothing  but  men 
who  have  taken  another  body.  This  is 
finer,  it  is  true,  but  still  a  man-body,  with 
hands  and  feet  and  so  on.  And  they  live  on 
this  earth,  in  another  akasha*  without  being 
absolutely  invisible.  They  also  think,  and 
have  consciousness,  and  everything  else, 
like  us.  So  they  also  are  men.  So  are 
the  devas,  the  angels.  But  man  alone  becomes 
GOD,  and  they  have  all  to  become  men 
again,  in  order  to  become  God." 

To  those  who  believe  in  our  Master  as 
a  "  competent  witness,*'  all  this  will  have 
its  own  value.  They  will  feel,  even 
where  he  expresses  what'  is  only  an  infer- 

*     May  be  translated  sky,  space,  or  (in  the   present    case)  plane 
or  dtnuntion. 



•ence,  only  an  opinion,  that  it  is  yet  an 
opinion  based  upon  unique  opportunity  of 

By  the  time  his  first  period  of  work  in 
America  was  finished,  on  the  eve  of  coming 
to  England  in  1896,  he  seems  to  have  felt 
the  necessity  of  systematising  his  religious 
teaching.  Having  at  first  given  forth  his 
wealth  of  knowledge  and  thought  without 
stint,  we  may  suppose  that  he  had  now  be- 
come aware  of  the  vastness  of  his  output, 
that  he  saw  its  distinctive  features  clearly  and 
that  he  felt  the  possibility  of  unifying  and 
condensing  it,  round  a  few  leading  ideas. 
Once  started  on  this  attempt,  he  would 
realise,  in  all  probability,  that  some  state- 
ment regarding  the  fate  of  the  soul  was 
essential  to  a  universal  acceptance  of  the 
Vedanta.  A  letter  written  to  an  English 
friend,  during  his  first  visit  to  England,  in 
October  1895,  showed  plainly  enough  that 
he  was  awake  to  the  question  of  the  definite 



-area  to  be  covered  by  a  religious  system. 
On  this  particular  occasion,  a  visit  from  a 
couple  of  young  men  who  belonged  to  a  "class 
philosophically  religious,  without  the  least 
mystery-mongering,"  had  called  his  atten- 
tion to  the  need  of  ritual.  "This,"  he  wrote, 
"  has  opened  my  eyes.  The  world  in  general 
must  have  some  form.  In  fact  religion 
itself,  in  the  ordinary  sense,  is  simply  philo- 
sophy concreted,  by  means  of  symbols  and 
ritual.  A  mere  loose  system  of  philosophy 
takes  no  hold  on  mankind." 

The  constructive  imagination  thus  roused 
was  seen  in  two  or  three  subsequent  letters 
to  the  same  friend;  and  in  one  of  these,  while 
still  under  the  mental  stimulus  of  conversation 
with  a  distinguished  electrician,  he  attacks 
the  whole  problem  of  the  relation  between 
force  and  matter,  making  at  the  same  time 
a  brief  but  pregnant  epitome  of  what  he 
regards  as  significant,  in  Hindu  lore  about 
death.  It  is  easy,  as  one  reads  this  Letter, 



to  see  how  he  has  been  thrilled  by  the 
congruity  of  ancient  Indian  thought  with 
modern  science.  "  Our  friend,"  he  writes, 
"was  charmed  to  hear  about  the  Vedantic 
prana  and  akasa  and  the  kalpas,  which, 
according  to  him,  are  the  only  theories 
modern  science  can  entertain.  Now  both 
akasa  and  prana  again,  are  produced  from 
the  cosmic  mahat,  the  universal  mind,  the 
Brahma,  or  Iswara.  He  thinks  he  can 
demonstrate  mathematically  that  force  and 
matter  are  reducible  to  potential  energy. 
I  am  to  go- and  see  him  next  week,  to  get 
this  new  mathematical  demonstration. 

"In  that  case,  the  Vedantic  cosmology 
will  be  placed  on  the  surest  of  foundations. 
I  am  working  a  good  deal  now,  upon  the 
cosmology  and  eschatology*  of  the  Vedanta. 
I  clearly  see  their  perfect  unison  with  modern 
science,  and  the  elucidation  of  the  one  will 

Eschatology  means  doctrine  of  the  last  things  :  according  to 
Christianity,  Death,  Judgment,  Heaven  and  Hell.  In  other  words, 
the  fate  of  the  soul. 



be  followed  by  that  of  the  other.  I  intend 
to  write  a  work  later  on,  in  the  form  of 
questions  and  answers.  The  first  chapter 
will  be  on  cosmology,  showing  the  harmony 
between  Vedantic  theories  and  modern 

Brahman  =  The  Absolute. 
Mahator  Iswara=  Primal  Creative  Energy. 

I  it  I 

Prana  Akasa  =  Force    and    Matter. 

The  eschatology  will  be  explained  from 
the  Adwaitic  standpoint  only.  That  is  to 
say,  the  dualist  claims  that  the  soul  after 
death  passes  on  to  the  Solar  Sphere,  thence 
to  the  Lunar  Sphere,  thence  to  the  Electric 
Sphere.  Thence  he  is  accompanied  by  a 
purusha  to  Brahmaloka.  (Thence,  says  the 
Adwaitist,  he  goes  to  Nirvana). 

"Now  on  the  Adwaitic  side  it  is  held 
that  the  Soul  neither  comes  nor  goes,  and 



that   all    these     spheres   or     layers     of    the 
universe  are  only  so    many  varying  products 
of  akasa  and  prana.     That    is   to   say,    the 
lowest  or  most  condensed  is  the  Solar  Sphere, 
consisting  of  the  visible    universe,   in   which 
Prana  appear  as  physical  force,  and  akasa  as 
sensible    matter.      The   next    is    called   the 
Lunar  Sphere,    which   surrounds    the    Solar 
Sphere.     This  is  not  the  moon  at  all,  but  the 
habitation    of      the    gods,     that    is    to     say, 
Prana   appears  in    it   as    psychic   forces,  and 
Akasa     as    Tanmatras,     or     fine     particles. 
Beyond  this  is  the  Electric  Sphere,  that  is  to 
say,   a    condition    in     which     the    Prana    is 
almost  inseparable  from  Akasa,  and  you  can 
hardly   tell   whether    Electricity   is   force   or 
matter.     Next   is    the   Brahmaloka,     where 
there  is   neither  Prana  nor  Akasa,  but   both 
are   merged   into  the  Mind-stuff,   the  primal 
energy.      And    here — there     being    neither 
Prana  nor  Akasa — the/zzw  contemplates  the 
whole    universe    as    Samashti,  or    the    sum- 



total  of  Mahat,  or  mind.  This  appears  as  a 
Purtiska,  an  abstract  universal  Soul,  yet  not 
the  Absolute,  for  still  there  is  multiplicity. 
From  this,  the  jiva  finds  at  last  that  Unity 
which  is  the  end.  Adwaitism  says  that  these 
are  the  visions  which  arise  in  succession 
before  the/Ym,  who,  himself,  neither  goes  nor 
comes,  and  that  in  the  same  way  this  present 
vision  has  been  projected.  The  projection 
(Shrishti)  and  dissolution  must  take  place  in 
the  same  order,  only  one  means  going  back- 
ward and  the  other  coming  out. 

"Now  as  each  individual  can  only  see 
his  own  universe,  that  universe  is  created 
with  his  bondage,  and  goes  away  with  his 
liberation,  although  it  remains  for  others 
who  are  in  bondage.  Now  name  and  form 
constitute  the  universe.  A  wave  in  the 
ocean  is  a  wave,  only  in  so  far  as  it  is  bound 
by  name  and  form.  If  the  wave  subsides,  it 
is  the  ocean,  but  that  name  and-form-has 
immediately  vanished  forever.  So  that  the 



name  and  form  of  a  wave  could  never  be, 
without  the  wafer  that  was  fashioned  into- 
the  wave  by  them,  yet  the  name  and  form 
themselves  were  not  the  wave.  They  die  as 
soon  as  ever  it  returns  to  water.  But  other 
names  and  forms  live  on,  in  relation  to- 
other waves.  This  name-and-form  is  called 
Maya,  and  the  water  is  Brahman.  The 
wave  was  nothing  but  water  all  the  time, 
yet  as  a  wave  it  had  the  name  and  form. 
Again  this  name-and-form  cannot  remain 
for  one  moment  separated  from  the  wave, 
although  the  wave,  as  water,  can  remain 
eternally  separate  from  name  and  form. 
But  because  the  name  and  form  can  never 
be  separated,  they  can  never  be  said 
to  exist.  Yet  they  are  not  zero.  This  is 
called  Maya. 

"  I  want  to  work  all  this  out  carefully, 
but  you  will  see  at  a  glance  that  I  am  on 
the  right  track.  It  will  take  more  study  in 
physiology,  on  the  relations  between  the 



higher  and  lower  centres,  to  fill  out  the 
psychology  of  mind,  chitta  and  buddhi,  and 
soon.  But  I  have  clear  light  now,  free 
from  all  hocus-pocus." 

Once  more  in  this  Letter,  as  so  often 
elsewhere,  we  see  the  reconciling  and  organ- 
ising force  of  the  Swami's  genius.  The 
standard  of  Sankaracharya  shall  not  be 
moved,  That  "  the  soul  neither  comes  nor 
goes"  remains  to  all  time  the  dominant 
truth.  But  the  labours  of  those  who  began 
their  work  at  the  opposite  end  shall  not  be 
wasted  either.  The  Adwaitin,  with  his 
philosophic  insight,  and  the  Dualist,  with 
his  scientific  observation  of  successive 
phases  of  consciousness, — both  are  neces- 
sary, to  each  other  and  to  the  new  for- 

*  The  Swami's  plan,  of  writing  a  book  in  the  form  of  questions 
and  answers,  was  never  carried  out.  But  in  studying  the  lectures 
he  delivered  in  London  in  the  year  1896,  it  is  easy  to  see  that  his 
mind  was  still  working  on  the  ideas  here  announced.  See  especially 
his  lectures—"  The  Absolute  and  Manifestation"  ;  "  The  Cosmos  : 
the  Macrocosm"  ;  and  his  American  lectures,  "  The  Real  and  the 
Apparent  Man"  ;  and  "  Cosmology." 



Death,  however,  is  pre-eminently  a  matter 
which  is  best  envisaged  from  without.  Not 
even  under  personal  bereavement  can  we 
see  so  clearly  into  the  great  truths  of  eternal 
destiny,  as  when  depth  of  friendship  and 
affection  leads  us  to  dramatise  our  sympathy 
for  the  sorrow  of  another.  The  comfort 
that  we  dared  not  lean  on  for  ourselves 
becomes  conviction  clear  as  the  noonday 
sun,  when  we  seek  it  for  others.  To  this 
rule,  the  Swami  was  no  exception,  and 
many  of  us,  it  may  be.  will  think  the  greatest 
of  all  his  utterances  on  this  subject,  a  certain 
letter  which  he  wrote  to  that  American 
woman  whom  he  called  "  Dhira  Mata,  the 
Steady  Mother,"  on  the  occasion  of  the 
loss  of  her  father.  In  this  we  have  the 
very  heart  of  his  belief,  made  warm  and 
personal,  and  are  made  to  apprehend 
its  bearing,  on  the  fate  of  our  own  be- 
loved dead. 

"I    had  a  premonition,"   he  writes  fronv 



Brooklyn,  to  his  bereaved  friend,  in  January 
1895,  "°f  your  father's  giving  up  the  old 
body,  and  it  is  not  my  custom  to  write  to 
any  one  when  a  wave  of  would-be  inhar- 
monious maya  strikes  him.  But  these  are 
the  great  turning-points  in  life,  and  I  know 
that  you  are  unmoved.  The  surface  of  the 
sea  rises  and  sinks  alternately,  but  to 
the  observant  soul,  the  child  of  light,  each 
sinking  reveals  more  and  more  of  the  depth, 
and  of  the  beds  of  pearl  and  coral  at  the 
bottom.  Coming  and  going  is  all  pure 
delusion.  The  soul  never  comes  nor  goes. 
Where  is  the  place  to  which  it  shall  go, 
when  all  space  is  in  the  When  shall 
be  the  time  for  entering  and  departing,  when 
all  time  is  in  tks  sou/? 

"  The  earth  moves,  causing  the  illusion 
of  the  movement  of  the  sun  ;  but  the  sun 
does  not  move.  So  Prakriti,  or  Maya,  or 
Nature,  is  moving,  changing,  unfolding  veil 
after  veil,  turning  over  leaf  after  leaf  of  this 


grand  book, — while  the  witnessing  soul 
drinks  in  knowledge,  unmoved,  unchanged. 
All  souls  that  ever  have  been,  are,  or  shall 
be,  are  all  in  the  present  tense,  and — to  use 
a  material  simile — are  all  standing  at  one 
geometrical  point.  Because  the  idea  of 
space  does  not  occur  in  the  soul,  therefore 
all  that  were  ours,  are  ours,  and  will  be 
ours  ;  are  always  with  us,  were  always 
with  us,  and  will  be  always  with  us.  We 
are  in  them.  They  are  in  us. 

Take  these  cells.  Though  each  separate, 
they  are  all,  nevertheless, 
inseparably  joined  at  A  B. 
There  they  are  one.  Each 
is  an  individual,  yet  all  are 
one  at  the  axis  A  B. 
None  can  escape  from  that 
axis,  and  however  one  may 
strive  to  escape  from  it, 
yet  by  standing  at  the  axis,  we  may  enter 
any  one  of  the  chambers.  This  axis 



is  the  Lord.     There,  we  are  one  with  Him, 
all  in  all,  and  all  in  God. 

"The  cloud  moves  across  the  face  of  the 
moon,  creating  the  illusion  that  the  moon  is 
moving.  So  nature,  body,  matter,  moves  on, 
creating  the  illusion  that  the  soul  is  moving. 
Thus  we  find  at  last  that  that  instinct  (or 
inspiration  ?)  which  men  of  every  race, 
whether  high  or  low,  have  had,  to  feel  the 
presence  of  the  departed  about  them,  is  true 
intellectually  also. 

"  Each  soul  is  a  star,  and  all  stars  are  set 
in  that  infinite  azure,  that  eternal  sky,  the 
Lord.  There  is  the  root,  the  reality,  the 
real  individuality,  of  each  and  all.  Religion 
began  with  the  search  after  some  of  these 
stars  that  had  passed  beyond  our  horizon, 
and  ended  in  finding  them  all  in  God,  and 
ourselves  in  the  same  place.  The  whole 
secret  is,  then,  that  your  father  has  given  up 
the  old  garment  he  was  wearing,  and  is 
standing  where  he  was,  through  all  eternity. 



Will  he  manifest  another  such  garment,  in- 
this  or  any  other  world  ?  I  sincerely  pray 
that  he  may  not,  until  he  does  so  in  full 
consciousness.  I  pray  that  none  may  be 
dragged  anywhither  by  the  unseen  power 
of  his  own  past  actions.  I  pray  that  all  may 
be  free,  that  is  to  say,  may  know  that  they 
are  free.  And  if  they  are  to  dream  again, 
let  us  pray  that  their  dreams  be  all  of  peace 
and  bliss". 




HE  who  crosses  a  chasm  on  a  narrow 
plank,  is  liable  at  any  moment  to  an  abrupt 
accession  of  all  his  ordinary  associations  and 
sensations,  with  a  sudden  fall  from  his  giddy 
height.  Very  like  this,  seem  the  stories 
that  we  come  across  in  sacred  literature, 
of  man's  occasional  attainment  of  the  mind- 
world  that  lies  beyond  our  common  ex- 
perience. Peter,  walking  on  the  sea,  begins 
to  sink,  the  moment  he  remembers  where 
he  is.  A  few  weary  men,  sleeping  on  a 
mountain-side,  wake  to  behold  their  Master 
transfigured  before  them.  But  again  they 
descend  into  the  world,  and  already  the  great 
vision  has  died  away,  and  become  an  echoing 
memory  alone.  Seated  in  the  fields,  watching 
their  flocks  by  night,  and  talking  in  hushed 
voices  on  high  themes,  the  shepherds  become 



aware  of  the  presence  of  angels.  The  mo- 
ments pass,  and  with  them  the  exaltation  of 
hour  and  place,  and  lo,  the  angels  have 
all  faded  out  of  the  sky  !  Their  hearers 
are  driven  to  the  common-place  expedient 
of  a  journey  on  foot  into  the  neighbour- 
ing village,  to  see  what  great  thing  has 
come  to  pass. 

In  contrast  to  these,  the  Indian  ideal  is 
that  man  whose  lower  mind  is  so  perfectly 
under  his  own  control  that  he  can  at  any 
moment  plunge  into  the  thought-ocean,  and 
remain  there  at  will ;  the  man  who  can  be 
swept  along,  on  irresistible  currents  of 
absorption,  without  the  least  possibility  of  a 
sudden  break  and  unexpected  return  to  the 
life  of  the  senses !  Undoubtedly  this  power 
comes  nearer,  with  depth  of  education  and 
intensity  of  experience.  But  the  only  thing 
that  can  make  it  a  man's  own,  is  a  self- 
command  so  strict  that  he  can,  at  will,  trans- 
cend thought  itself.  To  him  who  can  so 



concentrate  himself  as  to  be  able  even  to* 
suppress  it  when  he  will,  the  mind  becomes 
an  obedient  servant,  a  fleet  steed,  and  the 
body,  in  its  turn,  the  loyal  subject  of  the 
mind.  Short  of  such  power,  there  is  no 
perfect,  no  unwavering  self-control.  How 
few  must  be  the  persons  born  to  it,  in  any 
single  generation  !  There  is  a  luminous- 
ness,  an  assuredness,  about  the  deeds  and 
words  of  such,  which  cannot  be  mistaken. 
'  They  speak  as  those  having  authority,  and 
not  as  the  scribes.' 

We  cannot  question  that  Sri  Ramkrishna 
recognised  such  a  soul,  "  a  Brahmajnani 
from  his  birth,  "  in  the  lad  Noren,  when  he 
first  saw  him  ;  recognised  too,  like  a  skilled 
engineer  measuring  the  force  of  a  stream, 
the  height  to  which  his  thought-transcend- 
ence had  already  mounted.  "  Tell  me,  do 
you  see  a  light  when  you  are  going  to 
sleep  ? "  asked  the  old  man  eagerly. 
"  Doesn't  everyone  ?  "  answered  the  boy,  in. 



wonder.     In  later  life,  he  would  often  men- 
tion this  question,  and   digress,   to  describe 
to  us  the  light  he  saw.     Sometimes  it  would 
come   as  a   ball,  which    a   boy   was   kicking 
towards    him.       It   would    draw    near.     He 
would  become  one  with  it,  and  all   would  be 
forgotten.     Sometimes   it  was   a  blaze,  into 
which     he     would     enter.       One     wonders 
whether  sleep,  thus  beginning,  is  slumber   at 
all,  in  the  ordinary  sense.     At  any  rate,  it  is 
told,    by    the    men    who    were    young    with 
Vivekananda,    that    when    he    would    throw 
himself  down  to  sleep,    their  Master,    watch- 
ing his  breathing,  would  often  tell  the  others 
that    he    was    only    apparently    resting,  and 
would  explain  to  them  what  stage  of  medita- 
tion had  now  been  reached.     On  one  such  oc- 
casion, while  Sri    Ramakrishna  lay  ill   in  the 
house  at  Cossipur,  Noren  had  seemed,  to  one 
who  was  about  him,    to  have  been   sleeping 
for   some    hours,     when    suddenly,    towards 
midnight,    he    cried    out.      "Where    is    my 



body?"  His  companion,  now  known  as  the 
old  monk  Gopal  Dada,  ran  to  his  aid, 
and  did  all  he  could,  by  heavy  massage, 
to  restore  the  consciousness  that  had  been 
lost,  below  the  head.  When  all  was  in  vain, 
and  the  boy  continued  in  great  trouble 
and  alarm,  Gopal  Dada  ran  to  the  Master 
himself,  and  told  him  of  his  disciple's  con- 
dition. He  smiled  when  he  heard,  and 
said  ''Let  him  be!  It  will  do  him  no  harm 
to  stay  there  for  a  while.  He  has  teased  me 
enough,  to  reach  that  state!"  Afterwards  he 
told  him  and  others,  that  for  Noren  the  Nirvi- 
kalpa  Samadhi  was  now  over,  and  his  part 
would  henceforth  lie  in  work.  The  Swami 
himself  described  the  early  stages  of  this  ex- 
perience, later,  to  his  gurubhai,  Saradananda, 
as  an  awareness  of  light,  within  the  brain, 
which  was  so  intense  that  he  took  it  for 
granted  that  someone  had  placed  a  bright 
lamp  close  to  him,  behind  his  head.  Then, 
we  may  understand,  the  moorings  of 



sense-consciousness  were  cut,  and    he  soared 
into  those    realms  of  which  none  speaks. 

In  order  to  concentrate  the  mind,  it  will 
be  understood,  it  is  first  of  all  necessary 
that  we  should  be  able  to  forget  the  body. 
It  is  for  this  purpose  that  asceticism  is  prac- 
tised, and  austerities  undertaken.  Through- 
out his  life,  a  period  of  strict  tapasya  was 
always  a  delight  to  the  Swami,  who  was 
constantly  returning  upon  this,  in  spite  of 
the  seeming  fearlessness  with  which  he 
took  possession  of  the  world.  Like  a  prac- 
tised rider,  touching  the  reins,  or  a  great 
musician,  running  his  fingers  over  the  keys, 
he  loved  to  feel  again  the  response  of  the 
body  to  the  will,  rejoiced  to  realise  afresh, 
his  own  command  of  his  instrument.  "  I 
see  that  I  can  do  anything  \  "  he  said,  when, 
at  the  end  of  his  lite,  having  undertaken  to 
go  through  the  hot  season  in  Calcutta  without 
swallowing  water, — and  being  allowed  to  rinse 
out  the  mouth, — he  found  that  the  muscles 



of  his  throat  closed,  of  their  own  accord, 
against  the  passage  of  a  single  drop,  and 
he  could  not  have  drunk  it,  if  he  would. 
In  his  neighbourhood  when  he  was  keeping 
a  fast-day,  food  always  seemed  to  another 
unnecessary,  and  difficult  to  conceive.  I  have 
heard  of  an  occasion  when  he  sat,  seeming 
as  if  he  scarcely  heard,  surrounded  by  per- 
sons who  were  quarrelling  and  disputing. 
Suddenly  an  empty  tumbler  in  his  hand  was 
crushed  into  fragments,  the  only  sign  he 
ever  gave,  of  the  pain  this  discussion  had 
caused  him  ! 

It  is  not  easy  to  realise  the  severity  of 
the  practices  on  which  such  a  power  of  self- 
control  had  been  developed  ;  the  number  of 
hours  spent  in  worship  and  meditation  ;  the 
fixity  of  the  gaze ;  the  long-sustained 
avoidance  of  food  and  sleep.  With  regard 
to  this  last,  indeed,  there  was  one  time  when 
he  had  spent  twenty-five  days,  allowing 
himself  only  half-an -hour's  sleep,  out  of 



every  twenty-four  hours.  And  from  this 
half-hour,  he  awoke  himself  !  Sleep  never 
afterwards,  probably,  was  a  very  insistent 
or  enduring  guest  with  him.  He  had  the 
4  Yogi's  eyes ' — as  Devendra  Nath  Tagore 
had  told  him,  in  his  childhood,  when  he 
climbed  into  his  house-boat  on  the  Ganges, 
to  ask  "  Sir,  have  you  seen  God  ?  " — the 
'  Yogi's  eyes,'  which  are  said  never  to  shut 
completely,  and  to  open  wide,  at  the  first 
ray  of  light.  In  the  west,  those  staying 
in  the  same  house  with  him,  would  hear  the 
chant  of  '  Para  Brahman,'  or  something  of 
the  sort,  as  he  went,  in  the  small  hours  of 
the  morning,  to  take  his  early  plunge.  He 
never  appeared  to  be  practising  austerity, 
but  his  whole  life  was  a  concentration  so 
profound  that  to  anyone  else,  it  would  have 
been  the  most  terrible  asceticism.  The 
difficulty  with  which  he  stopped  the  momen- 
tum that  would  carry  him  into  meditation, 
had  been  seen  by  his  American  friends,  in 



the  early  days  of  his  life,  in  that  country 
of  railroads  and  tramways  and  complicated 
engagement-lists.  "  When  he  sits  down  to 
meditate,"  one  of  his  Indian  hosts  had  said, 
"it  is  not  ten  minutes,  before  he  becomes 
insensitive,  though  his  body  may  be  black 
with  mosquitoes  ! "  This  was  the  habit  he 
had  to  control.  At  first,  his  lapses  into  the 
depths  of  thought,  when  people  were  per- 
haps waiting  for  him  at  the  other  end  of  a 
journey,  caused  him  much  embarassment. 
On  one  occasion,  teaching  a  New  York  class 
to  meditate,  it  was  found  at  the  end,  that 
he  could  not  be  brought  back  to  conscious- 
ness, and  one  by  one,  his  students  stole 
quietly  away.  But  he  was  deeply  mortified, 
when  he  knew  what  had  happened,  and 
never  risked  its  repetition.  Meditating  in 
private,  with  one  or  two,  he  would  give  a 
word,  by  which  he  could  be  recalled. 

Apart  altogether,  however,  from  medita- 
tion, he  was  constantly,   always,   losing  him- 



self  in  thought.  In  the  midst  of  the  chatter 
and  fun  of  society,  one  would  notice  the 
eyes  arrow  still,  and  the  breath  come  at  longer 
and  longer  intervals  ;  the  pause  ;  and  then  the 
gradual  return.  H  is  friends  knew  these  things, 
and  provided  for  them.  If  he  walked  into- 
the  house,  to  pay  a  call,  and  forgot  to  speak  ; 
or  if  he  was  found  in  a  room,  in  silence, 
no  one  disturbed  him ;  though  he  would 
sometimes  rise  and  render  assistance  to  the 
intruder,  without  breaking  his  silence.  Thus 
his  interests  lay  within,  and  not  without.  To- 
the  scale  and  range  of  his  thought,  his  con- 
versation was  of  course  our  only  clue.  His 
talk  was  always  of  the  impersonal.  It  was 
not  always  religious,  as  that  word  goes,  any 
more  than  his  own  Master's  had  been.  It 
was  very  often  secular.  But  it  was  always 
vast.  There  was  never  in  it  anything  mean 
or  warped  or  petty.  There  was  no  limitation 
of  sympathy  anywhere.  Even  his  criticism 
was  felt  merely  as  definition  and  analysis.  It 



had  no  bitterness  or  resentment  in  it.  "  I 
can  criticise  even  an  avatar",  he  said  of  him- 
self one  day,  "without  the  slightest  diminution 
of  my  love  for  him  !  But  I  know  quite  well 
that  most  people  are  not  so  ;  and  for  them  it 
is  safest  to  protect  their  own  bhakti !  "  No 
sentiment  of  dislike  or  contempt  remained 
from  his  analysis,  even  in  the  mind  of 
the  listener. 

This  largeness  and  sweetness  of  outlook, 
was  firmly  based  on  his  reverence  for  his  own 
guru.  "Mine  is  the  devotion  of  the  dog  !" 
he  exclaimed  once.  "I  don't  want  to  know 
why!  I  am  contented  simply  to  follow!"  and  Sri 
Ramakrishna,  in  his  turn,  had  had  a  similar 
feeling  for  Tota  Puri — that  great  master,  who 
had  left  his  own  disciples,  at  Kaithal,  near 
Umballa,  one  day,  "to  go  into  Lower  Bengal, 
where  I  feel  that  a  soul  needs  me."  He  had 
gone  back  to  his  people  again,  when  his 
work  was  done  at  Dakhineswar,  and  his 
grave  in  the  North-West  is  honoured  to 



this  day.  But  he  whom  he  had  initiated 
felt  for  him,  ever  after,  a  reverence  so  great 
that  he  would  not  even  utter  his  name. 
"Nangta,  the  Naked  One,  said  unto  me — " 
was  his  customary  way  of  referring  to  him. 
Perfect  love  for  the  world  and  perfect  faith  in 
man  are  only  possible,  to  that  heart  which 
has  once  seen  its  ideal  realised. 

But  power  to  transcend  the  consciousness 
of  the  body  is  not  the  only  condition  of  a 
development  like  our  Master's.  It  is  the 
Hindu  belief  that  for  the  evolution  of  supreme 
force,  it  is  necessary  first  to  evoke  intense 
energy  of  emotion,  and  then  to  hold  this 
in  absolute  restraint.  This  points  to  a  cycle 
of  experience  beyond  the  imagination  of  most 
of  us,  yet  an  incident  in  the  life  of  the  disciple 
Noren,  gives  us  a  glimpse  of  it.  He  was 
still  young,  when  a  sudden  death  brought 
about  a  crisis  in  the  fortunes  of  his  family.. 
Day  after  day,  as  the  eldest  son,  he  was 
racked  with  anxiety  on  their  behalf.  The 



sufferings  of  those  who  were  dear  to  him 
tore  his  very  heartstrings,  and  the  sudden 
reversal,  from  ease  and  prosperity,  filled  him 
with  perplexity.  He  could  hardly  believe 
in  the  extent  of  their  disaster. 

At  last,  unable  longer  to  bear  the  anguish, 
he  fled  to  his  Master,  and  overwhelmed  him 
with  reproaches.  The  old  man  listened 
patiently,  and  said,  with  a  tender  smile,  "Go 
yonder,  my  lad,  and  pray,  before  the  image 
of  Mother.  AND  WHATEVER  YOU  ASK  HER 


Looked  at  even  from  the  most  ordinary 
point  of  view,  there  was  nothing  wild  or 
extravagant  in  the  promise  thus  made  ;  for 
Sri  Ramkrishna  was  surrounded  by  wealthy 
disciples,  of  the  Marwarri  caste,  who  would 
have  thought  no  cost  too  great,  to  have 
redeemed  his  word.  The  boy,  somewhat 
soothed  by  the  quietness  and  assurance  of 
the  direction,  left  his  presence  and  went  to 
pray  before  the  image.  It  was  some  time 



before  he  returned,  and  when  he  came,  he 
had  a  dazed  look,  say  those  who  were 
present,  and  seemed  to  speak  with  some 
difficulty.  "  Well,  did  you  pray  ?  "  asked 
Sri  Ramakrishna.  "Oh  yes !"  answered  his 

"And  what  did  you  ask  Mother  to  give 
you  ?"  said  the  Master. 

"The  highest  bhakti  and  Gnanam  !" 
replied  Noren, 

"Go  again,"  said  Sri  Ramakrishna, 
briefly,  without  further  comment,  and  again 
he  went. 

But  there  was  no  change.  Three  times 
he  was  sent,  to  ask  for  what  he  would  ;  and 
three  times  he  came  back,  with  the  same 
reply.  Once  before  the  Mother,  he  had 
forgotten  all  else,  and  could  not  even 
remember  the  cause  that  had  brought  him 
there.  Have  any  of  us  risen  at  times  to 
the  height  where  we  lose  the  memory  of 
self,  in  intensity  of  prayer  for  the  beloved  ? 



If  so,  we  have  perhaps  gained  some  measure 
of  the  infinitely  greater  remoteness  of  this 
experience,  from  our  common  world  of 
relativity  and  difference. 

The  Swami's  thought  soared,  as  he  talk- 
ed. Is  thought  itself  but  one  form  of  ex- 
pression of  the  inner  Self,  the  Adki  Saktit 
And  is  the  force  spent  in  it  to  be  reckoned 
as  lost,  from  the  point  of  view  of  the 
thinker's  own  good  ?  First,  a  circle  of  pheno- 
mena ;  then  a  circle  of  thought ;  lastly, 
the  Supreme!  If  so,  surely  there  can  be  no 
greater  unselfishness  than  the  sharing  of 
their  mind-treasure  by  the  great  souls,  the 
Maha-purushas.  To  enter  into  their  dream, 
must  in  itself  be  redemption,  for  it  is  the 
receiving  objectively,  of  a  seed  that  cannot 
die,  till  it  has  become,  subjectively,  the 
Beatific  Vision ! 

Ideals  were  the  units  of  our  Master's 
thought,  but  ideals  made  so  intensely  living 
that  one  never  thought  of  them  as  abstrac- 



tions.  Men  and  nations  alike,  were  inter- 
preted by  him  through  their  ideals,  their 
ethical  up-reaching.  I  have  sometimes 
thought  that  two  different  grades  of  mind 
are  distinguishable,  according  to  their  ins- 
tinct for  classification  under  two  heads  or 
three.  The  Swami's  tendency  was  always 
to  divide  into  three.  Recognising  the  two- 
extremes  of  a  quality,  he  never  failed  to 
discriminate  also  that  point  of  junction  bet- 
ween them,  where,  being  exactly  balanced, 
both  might  be  said  to  be  non-existent.  Is 
this  a  universal  characteristic  of  genius,  or 
is  it  a  distinction  of  the  Hindu  mind  ? 

One  never  knew  what  he  might  see  in  a 
thing,  never  quite  knew  what  might  appeal 
to  him.  He  would  often  speak  in  answer 
to  thought,  or  respond  to  a  thought  more 
easily  and  effectively  than  to  words.  It 
was  only  gradually,  from  a  touch  here,  and 
a  hint  there,  that  one  could  gather  the  great 
pre-occupation,  that  all  words  and  thoughts^ 



were  designed  to  serve.  It  was  not  till  the 
end  of  our  summer  in  Kashmir,  that  he  told 
us  how  he  was  always  conscious  of  the  form 
of  the  Mother,  as  a  bodily  presence,  visible 
amongst  us.  Again,  in  the  last  winter  of 
his  life,  he  told  his  disciple  Swarupananda 
that  for  some  months  continuously,  he  had 
been  conscious  of  two  hands,  holding  his- 
own  in  their  grasp.  Going  on  a  pilgrimager 
one  would  catch  him  telling  his  beads. 
Seated  with  one's  back  to  him  in  a  carriage 
one  would  hear  him  repeating  an  invocation 
over  and  over.  One  knew  the  meaning  of 
his  early-morning  chant,  when,  before 
sending  a  worker  out  to  the  battle,  he  said, 
"Ramakrishna  Paramahamsa  used  to  begin 
every  day  by  walking  about  in  his  room  for 
a  couple  of  hours,  saying  '  Satchidananda !' 
or  'Sivoham !'  or  some  other  holy  word." 
This  hint,  publicly  given,  was  all. 

Constant  devotion,  then,  was  the  means  by 
which  he  maintained  his  unbroken  concentra- 



tion.  Concentration  was  the  secret  of  those 
incessant  flashes  of  revelation,  which  he  was 
.always  giving.  Like  one  who  had  plunged  his 
cup  into  a  deep  well,  and  brought  up  from  it 
water  of  a  sparkling  coldness,  was  his  entrance 
into  a  conversation.  It  was  the  quality  of  his 
thought,  quite  as  much  as  its  beauty  or  its 
intensity,  that  told  of  the  mountain-snows 
of  spiritual  vision,  whence  it  was  drawn. 

Some  measure  of  this  concentration  was 
afforded  by  the  stories  he  would  tell  of  his 
lecturing  experiences.  At  night,  in  his  own 
room,  a  voice,  he  said,  would  begin  to  shout 
at  him  the  words  he  was  to  say  on  the  mor- 
row, and  the  next  day  he  would  find  himself 
repeating,  on  the  platform,  the  things  he  had 
heard  it  tell.  Sometimes  there  would  be 
two  voices,  arguing  with  each  other. 
Again  the  voice  would  seem  to 
come  from  a  long  distance,  speaking  to 
him  down  a  great  avenue.  Then  it  might 
draw  nearer  and  nearer,  till  it  would  become 



a  shout.  "Depend  upon  it,"  he  would  sayv 
"Whatever  in  the  past  has  been  meant  by  ins- 
piration, it  must  have  been  something  like 

In  all  this,  however,  he  saw  no  miracle.- 
It  was  merely  the  automatic  working  of  the 
mind,  when  that  had  become  so  saturated 
with  certain  principles  of  thought,  as  to  re- 
quire no  guidance  in  their  application.  It  was 
probably  an  extreme  form  of  the  experience 
to  which  Hindus  refer,  as  the  'mind  becoming 
the  guru.'  It  also  suggests  that,  almost 
perfectly  balanced  as  the  two  highest  senses 
were  in  him,  the  aural  may  have  had  a  slight 
preponderance  over  the  visual.  He  was,  as- 
one  of  his  disciples  once  said  of  him,  "  a  most 
faithful  reporter  of  his  own  states  of  mind," 
and  he  was  never  in  the  slightest  danger  of 
attributing  these  voices  to  any  but  a  subjec- 
tive source. 

Another  experience  of  which  I  heard  from- 
him,  suggesting  the  same  automatic  mentality,. 



perhaps  in  less  developed  form,  was  that 
when  any  impure  thought  or  image  appeared 
before  him,  he  was  immediately  conscious 
of  what  he  called  'a  blow/ — a  shattering, 
paralysing  blow,— struck  from  within  upon 
the  mind  itself,  as  if  to  say  'no !  not  this 
way! ' 

He  was  very  quick  to  recognise  in  others 
those  seemingly  instinctive  actions,  that  were 
really  dictated  by  the  higher  wisdom  of 
super-consciousness.  The  thing  that  was 
right,  no  one  could  tell  why,  while  yet  it 
would  have  seemed,  judged  by  ordinary 
standards,  to  have  been  a  mistake, — -in  such 
things  he  saw  a  higher  impulsion.  Not  all 
ignorance  was,  in  his  eyes,  equally  dark. 

His  Master's  prophecy  that  again  he 
would  eat  his  mango,  of  the  Nirvikalpa 
Sainzdki,  when  his  work  was  done,  was 
never  forgotten,  by  the  brethren  of  his  youth. 
None  at  any  time  knew  the  moment  when 
the  work  might  be  .ended,  and  the  mounting 



realisation  some  may  have  suspected.  During 
the  last  year  of  his  life,  a  group  of  his  early 
•comrades  were  one  day  talking  over  the 
-old  days,  and  the  prophecy  that  when  Noren 
should  realise  who  and  what  he  had  already 
been,  he  would  refuse  to  remain  in  the  body, 
was  mentioned.  At  this,  one  of  them  turned  to 
him,  half-laughing,  "  Do  you  know  yet,  who 
you  were,  Swamiji  ?"  he  said,  "Yes,  il  know 
now,"  was  the  unexpected  answer,  awing 
them  into  earnestness  and  silence,  and  no 
one  could  venture  at  that  time  to  question 
him  further. 

As  the  end  came  nearer,  meditation  and 
austerity  took  up  more  and  more  of  life. 
Even  those  things  that  had  interested  him 
most,  elicited  now  only  a  far  away  concern. 
And  in  the  last  hour,  when  the  supreme 
realisation  was  reached,  some  ray  of  its  vast 
super-conscious  energy  seemed  'to  touch 
many  of  those  who  loved  him,  near  and  far. 
One  dreamt  that  Sri  Ramkrishna  had  died 



again  that  night,  and  woke  in  the 
dawn  to  hear  the  messenger  at  his  gate. 
Another,  amongst  the  closest  friends  of  his 
boyhood,  had  a  vision  of  his  coming  in 
triumph  and  saying  "  Soshi  !  Soshi  !  I  have 
spat  out  the  body !  "  and  still  a  third,  drawn 
irresistibly  in  that  evening  hour,  to  the  place 
of  meditation,  found  the  soul  face  to  face  with 
an  infinite  radiance,  and  fell  prostrate  before 
it,  crying  out  '  Siva  Guru  ! ' 



LATE  in  the  year  1900,  the  Swami  broke 
off  from  the  party  of  friends  with  whom  he 
was  travelling  in  Egypt,  and  went  home 
suddenly,  to  India.  "He  seemed  so  tired  !"' 
says  one  of  those  who  were  with  him  at 
this  time.  As  he  looked  upon  the  Pyramids 
and  the  Sphinx,  and  the  rest  of  the  great 
sights  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Cairo,  it  was 
in  truth  like  one  who  knew  himself  to  be 
turning  the  last  pages  in  the  book  of  ex- 
perience !  Historic  monuments  no  longer 
had  the  power  to  move  him  deeply. 

He  was  cut  to  the  quick,  on  the  other 
hand,  to  hear  the  people  of  the  country 
referred  to  constantly  as  4l  natives,"  and  to 
find  himself  associated,  in  his  visit,  rather 
with  the  foreigner  than  with  them.  In  this 
respect,  indeed,  it  would  seem  that  he  had 



enjoyed  his  glimpse  of  Constantinople  vastly 
more  than  Egypt,  for  towards  the  end  of 
his  life  he  was  never  tired  of  talking  about 
a  certain  old  Turk  who  kept  an  eating-house 
there,  and  had  insisted  on  giving  entertain- 
ment without  price  to  the  party  of  stangers, 
one  of  whom  came  from  India.  So  true  it  was, 
that  to  the  oriental,  untouched  by  modern 
secularity,  all  travellers  were  pilgrims,  and 
all  pilgrims  guests. 

In  the  winter  that  followed,  he  paid  a 
visit  to  Dacca,  in  East  Bengal,  and  took  a 
large  party  up  the  Brahmaputra,  to  make 
certain  pilgrimages  in  Assam.  How  rapidly 
his  health  was  failing  at  this  time,  only  those 
immediately  around  him  knew.  None  of 
us  who  were  away,  had  any  suspicion. 
He  spent  the  summer  of  1901  at  Bellur, 
'hoping  to  hear  again  the  sound  of  the 
rains,  as  they  fell  in  his  boyhood  ! '  And 
when  the  winter  again  set  in,  he  was  so  ill 
as  to  be  confined  to  bed. 



Yet  he  made  one  more  journey,  lasting 
through  January  and  February  1902,  when 
he  went,  first  to  Bodh-Gaya  and  next  to 
Benares,  It  was  a  fit  end  to  all  his  wander- 
ings. He  arrived  at  Bodh-Gaya  on  the 
morning  of  his  last  birthday,  and  nothing 
could  have  exceeded  the  courtesy  and  hos- 
pitality of  the  Mahunt.  Here,  as  after- 
wards at  Benares,  the  confidence  and 
affection  of  the  orthodox  world  were  brought 
to  him  in  such  measure  and  freedom  that 
he  himself  stood  amazed  at  the  extent  of 
his  empire  in  men's  hearts.  Bodh-Gaya, 
as  it  was  now  the  last,  had  also  been  the 
first,  of  the  holy  places  he  had  set  out  to 
visit.  And  it  had  been  in  Benares,  some 
few  years  later  that  he  had  said  farewell  to 
one,  with  the  words,  "  Till  that  day  when 
I  fall  on  society  like  a  thunderbolt  I  shall 
visit  this  place  no  more !  " 

Many  of  his  disciples  from   distant  parts 
of  the  world  gathered   round  the  Swami   on 



his  return  to  Calcutta.  Ill  as  he  looked, 
there  was  none,  probably,  who  suspected 
how  near  the  end  had  come.  Yet  visits 
were  paid,  and  farewells  exchanged,  that  it 
had  needed  voyages  half  round  the  world 
to  make.  Strangely  enough,  in  his  first  con- 
versation after  coming  home  from  Benares, 
his  theme  was  the  necessity  of  withdraw- 
ing himself  for  a  time,  in  order  to  leave 
those  that  were  about  him  a  free  hand. 

"  How  often,"  he  said,  "  does  a  man 
ruin  his  disciples,  by  remaining  always  with 
them  !  When  men  are  once  trained,  it  is 
essential  that  their  leader  leave  them,  for 
without  his  absence  they  cannot  develop 
themselves  ! " 

It  was  as  the  result  of  the  last  of  those 
foreign  contacts  that  had  continued  without 
intermission  throughout  his  mature  life,  that 
he  realised  suddenly  the  value  to  religion  of 
high  ideals  of  faithfulness  in  marriage.  To 
the  monk,  striving  above  all  things  to< 



3>e  true  to  his  own  vows,  not  only  in 
word  and  deed,  but  still  more  earnestly 
and  arduously,  in  thought  itself,  the  ideals 
of  social  life  are  apt  to  appear  as  so  much 
waste  material.  Suddenly  the  Swami  saw 
that  a  people  to  whom  chastity  was  not 
precious,  could  never  hope  to  produce  a 
faithful  priesthood,  or  a  great  monastic  order. 
Only  where  the  inviolability  of  marriage  was 
fully  recognised,  could  the  path  that  lay 
outside  marriage  be  truthfully  held.  By  the 
sacredness  of  the  social  ideal,  was  the  holi- 
ness of  the  super-social  rendered  possible. 

This  realisation  was  the  crown  of  his 
philosophy.  It  could  not  but  mark  the  end 
of  "the  play  of  Mother."  The  whole  of  society 
was  necessary,  with  its  effort  and  its  attain- 
ment, to  create  the  possibility  of  the  life  of 
Sannyas.  The  faithful  householder  was  as 
essential  to  the  Sanathan  Dharmma  as 
the  faithful  monk.  The  inviolability  of 
marriage  and  the  inviolability  of  the 


monastic  vow,  were  obverse  and  reverse 
of  a  single  medal.  Without  noble  citizen- 
ship, there  could  be  no  mighty  apostolate. 
Without  the  secular,  no  sacerdotal,  without 
temporal,  no  spiritual.  Thus  all  was  one, 
yet  no  detail  might  be  wilfully  neglected,  for 
through  each  atom  shone  the  whole.  It 
was  in  fact  his  own  old  message  in  a  new 
form.  Integrity  of  character,  as  he  and  his 
Master  before  him,  had  insisted,  was  a 
finer  offering  than  religious  ecstacy.  Without 
strength  to  hold,  there  was  no  achievement 
in  surrender. 

For  the  sake  of  the  work  that  constantly 
opened  before  him,  the  Swami  made  a  great 
effort,  in  the  spring  of  1902,  to  recover  his 
health,  and  even  undertook  a  course  of 
treatment  under  which,  throughout  April, 
May,  and  June,  he  was  not  allowed  to 
swallow  a  drop  of  cold  water.  How  far 
this  benefitted  him  physically,  one  does  not 
know;  but  he  was  overjoyed  to  find  the  un- 



flawed  strength  of  his  own  will,  in  going 
through  the  ordeal. 

When  June  closed,  however,  he  knew 
well  enough  that  the  end  was  near.  "  I  am 
making  ready  for  death,  "  he  said  to  one  who 
was  with  him,  on  the  Wednesday  before  he 
died.  "  A  great  tapasya  and  meditation  has 
come  upon  me,  and  I  am  making  ready  for 
death.  " 

And  we  who  did  not  dream  that  he  would 
leave  us,  till  at  least  some  three  or  four  years 
had  passed,  knew  nevertheless  that  the  words 
were  true.  News  of  the  world  met  but  a 
far  away  rejoinder  from  him  at  this  time. 
Even  a  word  of  anxiety  as  to  the  scarcity  of 
the  rains,  seemed  almost  to  pass  him  by  as 
in  a  dream.  It  was  useless  to  ask  him  now 
for  an  opinion  on  the  questions  of  the  day. 
"You  maybe  right,"  he  said  quietly,  "but  I 
cannot  enter  any  more  into  these  matters.  I 
am  going  down  into  death." 

Once  in   Kashmir,   after  an  attack  of  ill- 



ness  I  had  seen  him  lift  a  couble  of  pebbles,, 
saying,  "Whenever  death  approaches  me,  all 
weakness  vanishes.  I  have  neither  fear,  nor 
doubt,  nor  thought  of  the  external.  I  simply 
busy  myself  making  ready  to  die.  I  am  as- 
hard  as  that" — and  the  stones  struck  one 
another  in  his  hand— "for  I  have  touched  the 
feet  of  God!" 

Personal  revelation  was  so  rare  with  him,, 
that  these  words  could  never  be  forgotten. 
Again,  on  returning  from  the  cave  of  Amar- 
nath,  in  that  same  summer  of  1898,  had  he 
not  said,  laughingly,  that  he  had  there  re- 
ceived  the  grace  of  Amar  Nath — not  to  die  till 
he  himself  should  will  to  do  so  ?  Now  this, 
seeming  to  promise  that  death  would  never 
take  him  by  surprise,  had  corresponded  so* 
well  with  the  prophecy  of  Sri  Ramkrishna — 
that  when  he  should  know  who  and  what  he 
was,  he  would  refuse  to  remain  a  moment 
longer  in  the  body — that  one  had  banished, 
from  one's  mind  all  anxiety  on  this  score,  and 



even  his  own  grave  and  significant  words  at 
the  present  time  did  not  suffice  to  revive  it. 
Did  we  not  remember,  moreover,  the 
story  of  the  great  Nirvikalpa  Samadhi  of 
his  youth,  and  how,  when  it  was  over,  his 
Master  had  said,  "This  is  your  mango,  Look  I 
I  lock  it  in  my  box.  You  shall  taste  it  once 
more,  when  your  work  in  finished." 

" And  we  may  wait  for  that,"  said  the 

monk  who  told  me  the  tale.  "We  shall  know 
when  the  time  is  near.  For  he  will  tell  us 
that  again  he  has  tasted  his  mango." 

How  strange  it  seems  now,  looking  back 
on  that  time,  or  realise  in  how  many  ways  the 
expected  hint  was  given,  only  to  fall  on  ears 
that  did  not  hear,  to  reach  minds  that  could 
not  understand ! 

I  would  seem,  indeed,  that  in  his  with- 
drawal from  all  weakness  and  attachment, 
there  was  one  exception.  That  which  had 
ever  been  dearer  to  him  than  life,  kept  still 
its  power  to  move  him.  It  was  on  the  last 



Sunday  before  the  end  that  he  said  to  one  of 
his  disciples,  "You  know  the  WORK  is  always 
my  weak  point !  When  I  think  that  might 
come  to  an  end,  I  am  all  undone !" 

On  Wednesday  of  the  same  week,  the 
day  being  Ekadasi,  and  himself  keping  the 
fast  in  all  strictness,  he  insisted  on  serving 
the  morning  meal  to  the  same  disciple.  Each 
dish  as  it  was  offered — boiled  seeds  of  the 
jack-fruit,  boiled  potatoes,  plain  rice,  and  ice- 
culd  milk — formed  the  subject  of  playful  chat; 
and  finally,  to  end  the  meal,  he  himself  pour- 
ed the  water  over  the  hands,  and  dried  them 
with  a  towel. 

"It  is  I  who  should  do  these  things  for 
you  Swamiji !  Not  you,  for  me !"  was  the 
protest  naturally  offered.  But  his  answer 
was  startling  in  its  solemnity — "Jesus  washed 
the/^/  of  His  disciples  !" 

Something  checked  the  answer  "But  that 
was  the  last  time  !"  as  it  rose  to  the  lips, 
and  the  words  remained  unuttered.  This 



was  well.  For  here  also,  the  last  time 
had  come. 

There  was  nothing  sad  or  grave  about 
the  Swami,  during  these  days.  In  the  midst 
of  anxiety  about  over-fatiguing  him,  in  spite 
of  conversation  deliberately  kept  as  light  as- 
possible,  touching  only  upon  the  animals  that 
surrounded  him,  his  garden,  experiments, 
books,  and  absent  friends,  over  and  beyond 
all  this,  one  was  conscious  the  while  of  a 
luminous  presence,  of  which  his  bodily  form 
seemed  only  as  a  shadow,  or  symbol. 
Never  had  one  felt  so  strongly  as  now,  before 
him,  that  one  stood  on  the  threshold  of  an 
infinite  light.  Yet  none  was  prepared,  least 
of  all  on  that  last  happy  Friday,  July  the  4th, 
on  which  he  appeared  so  much  stronger  and 
better  than  he  had  been  for  years,  to  see  the 
end  so  soon. 

He  had  spent  hours  of  that  day  in  formal 
meditation.  Then  he  had  given  a  long 
Sanskrit  lesson.  Finally  he  had  taken  a. 



walk  from  the  monastery  gates  to  the  distant 

On  his  return  from  this  walk,  the  bell 
was  ringing  for  evensong,  and  he  went  to  his 
own  room,  and  sat  down,  facing  towards  the 
Ganges,  to  meditate.  It  was  the  last  time. 
The  moment  was  come  that  had  been  fore- 
told by  his  Master  from  the  beginning.  Raff 
an  hour  went  by,  and  then,  on  the  wings  of 
that  meditation,  his  spirit  soared  whence 
there  could  be  no  return,  and  the  body  was 
left,  like  a  folded  vesture,  on  the  earth. 


Towards  Christmas  of  the  year  1902,  a 
few  of  the  Swami  Vivekananda's  disciples 
gathered  at  Khandagiri  near  Cuttack  to 
keep  the  festival.  It  was  evening,  and  we 
sat  on  the  grass,  round  a  lighted  log,  while 
on  one  side  of  us  rose  the  hills,  with  their 
caves  and  carven  rocks,  and  all  around  us 
whispered  the  sleeping  forest.  We  were 
to  keep  Christmas  Eve,  in  the  old-time 
fashion  of  the  order  of  Ramakrishna.  One 
of  the  monks  held  a  long  crook,  and  we 
had  with  us  a  copy  of  the  Gospel  of  St. 
Luke,  wherewith  to  read  and  picture  the 
coming  of  the  angels,  and  the  singing  of 
the  world's  first  Gloria.* 

We  lost  ourselves  in  the  story,  however, 

*     Glory  to   God  in   the  highest,    and   on   earth   peace,   good- 
will to  men. !     The  Song  of  the  Angels. 



and  the  reading  could  not  be  stopped  at 
Christmas  Eve,  but  must  needs  drift  on  from 
point  to  point.  The  Great  Life  as  a  whole 
was  passed  in  review  ;  then  the  Death  ;  and 
finally  the  Resurrection.  We  turned  to  the 
twenty-fourth  chapter  of  the  Gospel,  and 
read  incident  after  incident. 

But  the  tale  sounded  as  never  before, 
in  our  ears.  Instead  of  a  legal  document, 
dated  and  attested,  whose  credibility  must 
stand  or  fall  by  the  clearness  and  coherence 
of  its  various  parts,  it  read  now  like  the 
gasping,  stammering  witness  of  one  who 
had  striven  to  put  on  record  the  impalpable 
and  the  intangible.  The  narrative  of  the 
Resurrection  was  no  longer,  for  us,  an  ac- 
count of  an  event,  to  be  accepted  or  rejec- 
ted. It  had  taken  its  place  for  evermore 
as  a  spiritual  perception,  which  one  who 
experienced  it  had  striven,  not  always  suc- 
cessfully, to  put  into  words.  The  whole 
chapter  sounded  fragmentary,  cumulative, 


like  some  longing  attempt  to  convince,  not 
the  reader  only,  but  even,  to  some  extent, 
the  writer  himself. 

For  had  we  not  had  our  own  glimmerings 
of  a  like  back-coming  to  put  beside  it? 
One  remembered  and  understood  suddenly, 
the  clear  and  deliberate  statement  of  our 
Master  himself — "Several  times  in  my  life  I 
have  seen  returning  spirits  ;  and  once — in 
the  week  after  the  death  of  Ramakrishna 
Paramahamsa — the  form  was  luminous." 

We  were  face  to  face,  not  merely  with 
the  longing  of  the  disciples  to  see  once 
more  the  master  who  had  gone  from  them, 
Tjut  with  the  far  deeper  yearning  of  the 
Incarnation,  to  return  again,  to  comfort  and 
bless  the  disciples  He  had  left. 

"Did  not  our  hearts  burn  within  us, 
while  he  talked  with  us  by  the  way?" — How 
many  moments  of  such  exaltation  had  we 
ourselves  not  known,  in  the  first  weeks  after 
the  passing  of  the  Master,  when  we  would 


fain  have  believed  that  his  actual  presence- 
had  been  with  us ! 

"He  was  knoivn  unto  them  in  the  break- 
ing of  bread" — Even  so.  Only  a  touch 
here,  a  word  there,  a  moment  of  sweetness, 
or  a  flash  of  inner  clearness  and  know- 
ledge, any  of  these  had  been  sufficient, 
at  various  times  in  those  early  weeks,  to> 
bring  back  the  throbbing  awareness  of  the 
beloved  presence,  with  the  mingling  of  doubt 
and  assurance  in  its  poignant  longing. 

We  passed  over,  that  night  at  Khanda- 
giri,  those  features  of  the  Resurrection  tha  t. 
would  seem  to  have  been  added  later  by 
minds  that  believed  in  the  hard  and  fast,, 
black  and  white,  character  of  the  story.  It 
was  the  older  record,  shining  through  this 
palimpsest,  on  which  our  thoughts  were 
fastened,  that  simple  old  record,  full  of  the 
pathos  of  sudden  sights  and  vanishings, 
with  its  gatherings  of  the  Eleven,  whispering 
amongst  themselves  "  The  Lord  is  risen 



indeed  ! "  with  its  tale,  at  the  last,  of  a  parting 
in  the  midst  of  a  benediction. 

It  was  not  of  any  re-appearances  of  the 
body  at  all,  as  it  seemed  to  us  reading, 
that  this  older  story  had  told,  but  of  sudden 
and  unforeseen  meetings  of  the  will,  returns 
of  thought  and  love,  brief  upliftings  of  prayer, 
from  One  who  in  the  Vedic  phrase,  had 
been  'resumed  into  His  shining  Self,'  and 
moved  now  on  subtler  and  more  penetrative 
planes  of  action  than  we,  entangled  amidst 
the  senses,  could  conceive. 

Nor  were  they  so  objective  that  all  alike 
might  be  equally  conscious  of  these  fleet- 
ing gleams,  half-seen,  half-heard.  The  grosser 
perception  they  passed  by  altogether.  Even 
to  the  finest,  they  were  matters  to  be  ques- 
tioned, to  be  discussed  eagerly,  to  be  pieced 
together  in  sequence,  and  cherished  tenderly 
in  the  heart.  Amongst  the  closest  and  most 
authoritative  of  the  apostles,  there  might  well 
be  some  who  doubted  altogether.  And 



and  yet,  in  the  midst  of  the  caves  and  forests 
of  Khandagiri  that  night,  we  who  followed 
the  Christian  story  of  the  Resurrection, 
could  not  but  feel  that  behind  it,  and  through 
it,  glistened  a  thread  of  fact ;  that  we  were 
tracing  out  the  actual  footsteps  left  by  a 
human  soul  somewhere,  somewhen,  as  it 
trod  the  glimmering  pathway  of  this  fugitive 
experience.  So  we  believed,  so  we  felt, 
because,  in  all  its  elusiveness,  a  like  revela- 
tion, at  a  like  time,  had  made  itself  evident 
to  us  also. 

May  God  grant  that  this  living  presence  of 
our  Master,  of  which  death  itself  had  not 
had  power  to  rob  us,  become  never,  to  us 
his  disciples,  as  a  thing  to  be  remembered, 
but  remain  with  us  always  in  its  actuality, 
-even  unto  the  end  ! 

THE    END. 




Nov.  1 6.  1895. 

Just  as  it  is  necessary  for  a  man  to  go  through 
symbols  and  ceremonies  first,  in  order  to  arrive  at 
the  depths  of  realisation,  so  we  say  in  India  :  'It  is 
good  to  be  born  in  a  church,  but  bad  to  die  in  one.' 
A  sapling  must  be  hedged  about  for  protection, 
but  when  it  becomes  a  tree,  a  hedge  would  be  a 
danger.  So  there  is  no  need  to  criticise  and  con~ 
demn  the  old  forms.  We  forget  that  in  religion 
there  must  be  growth. 

At  first  we  think  of  a  Personal  God,  and  call 
Him  Creator,  Omnipotent,  Omniscient,  and  so  forth. 
But  when  love  comes,  God  is  only  love.  The  lov- 
ing worshipper  does  not  care  what  God  is,  because 
he  wants  nothing  from  Him.  Says  an  Indian  saint 
"I  am  no  beggar  !"  Neither  does  he  fear.  Man  should 
not  try  to  approach  God :  to  come  to  God  is  all  he 
has  to  do.  Anthropomorphic  conceptions  follow. 
God  is  loved  as  a  human  being. 

Here  are  some  of  the  systems  founded  on  love, 
(i)  Santlk,  common,  peaceful  love,  with  such 
thoughts  as  those  of  fatherhood  and  help  ;  (2) 

,  the  ideal  of  service  ;  God  as  master  or 
general  or  sovereign,  giving  punishments  and 
rewards  ;  (3)  Vdtsalyam,  God  as  mother  or  child. 
In  India  the  mother  never  punishes. 

In  each  of  these  stages,  the  worshipper  forms  an 
ideal  of  God  and  follows  it.  Then  He  becomes  (4) 
the  Friend.  There  is  here  no  fear.  There  is  also  the 
feeling  of  equality  and  familiarity.  There  are  some 
Hindus  who  worship  God  as  friend  and  play-mate. 
Next  comes  (5)  Madhuram,  sweetest  love,  the  love 
of  husband  and  wife.  Of  this  S.  Teresa  and  the 
ecstatic  saints  have  been  examples.  Amongst 
the  Persians,  God  has  been  looked  upon  as  the 
wife,  amongst  Hindus  as  the  husband.  We  may 
recall  the  great  queen  Meera  Bae,  who  preached 
that  the  Divine  Spouse  was  all.  Some  carry  this 
to  such  an  extreme  that  to  call  God  'mighty1  or 
'father'  seems  to  them  blasphemy.  The  language  of 
this  worship  is  erotic.  Some  even  use  that  of 
illicit  passion.  To  this  cycle  belongs  the  story  of 
Krishna  and  the  Gopi-girls.  All  this  probably 
seems  to  you  to  entail  great  degeneration  on  the 
worshipper.  And  so  it  does.  Yet  many  great 
saints  have  been  developed  by  it.  And  no  human 
institution  is  beyond  abuse.  Would  you  cook  no- 
thing because  there  are  beggars  ?  Would  you  pos- 


sess  nothing  because  there  are  thieves  ?  "Oh  Be- 
loved, one  kiss  of  Thy  lips,  once  tasted,  hath  made 
me  mad  !" 

The  fruit  o  this  idea  is  that  one  can  no  longer 
belong  to  any  sect,  or  endure  ceremonial.  Religion 
in  India  culminates  in  freedom.  But  even  this 
comes  to  be  given  up,  and  all  is  love,  for  love's 

Last  of  all  comes  LOVE  WITHOUT  DISTINCTION, 
the  Self.  There  is  a  Persian  poem  that  tells  how  a 
lover  came  to  the  door  of  his  beloved,  and  knocked. 
She  asked,  "Who  art  thou?"  and  he  replied  " I  am  so 
and  so,  thy  beloved  !"  and  she  answered  only,  "Go  ! 
I  know  none  such  !"  But  when  she  had  asked  for 
the  fourth  time,  he  said  "I  am  thyself,  O  my  Be- 
loved, therefore  open  thou  to  me  !  "  and  the  door 
was  opened. 

A  great  saint  said,  using  the  language  of  a  girl, 
describing  love.  "  Four  eyes  met.  There  were 
changes  in  two  souls.  And  now  I  cannot  tell 
whether  he  is  a  man,  and  I  a  woman,  or  he  a  woman 
and  I  a  man.  This  only  I  remember,  two  souls 
were.  Love  came,  and  there  was  one." 

In  the  highest  love,  union  is  only  of  the  spirit. 
All  love  of  another  kind  is  quickly  evanescent. 
Only  the  spiritual  lasts,  and  this  grows. 


Love  sees  the  Ideal.  This  is  the  third  angle 
of  the  triangle.  God  has  been  cause,  Creator, 
Father.  Love  is  the  culmination.  The  mother 
regrets  that  her  child  is  humpbacked,  but  when  she 
has  nursed  him  for  a  few  days,  she  loves  him  and 
thinks  him  most  beautiful.  The  lover  sees  Helen's 
beauty  in  a  brow  of  Egypt.  We  do  not  commonly 
realise  what  happens.  The  brow  of  Egypt  is 
merely  a  suggestion  .-  the  man  sees  Helen.  His 
ideal  is  thrown  upon  the  suggestion  and  covers  it, 
as  the  oyster  makes  sand  into  a  pearl.  God  is  this 
ideal,  through  which  man  may  see  all. 

Hence  we  come  to  love  Love  itself.  This  love 
cannot  be  expressed.  No  words  can  utter  it.  We 
are  dumb  about  it. 

The  senses  become  very  much  heightened  in 
love.  Human  love,  we  must  remember,  is  mixed  up 
with  attributes.  It  is  dependent,  too,  on  the  other's 
attitude.  Indian  languages  have  words  to  describe 
this  interdependence  of  love.  The  lowest  love  is  sel- 
fish ;  it  consists  in  the  pleasure  of  being  loved.  We 
say  in  India,  '  one  gives  the  cheek  the  other  kisses.' 
Above  this  is  mutual  love.  But  this  also  ceases 
mutually.  True  love  is  all  giving.  We  don't  even 
want  to  see  the  other,  or  to  do  anything  to  ex- 
press our  feeling.  It  is  enough  to  give.  It  is 

almost  impossible  to  love  a  human  being   like  this, 
but  it  is  possible  so  to  love  God. 

In  India,  there  is  no  idea  of  blasphemy,  if  boys 
fighting  in  the  street  use  the  name  of  God.  We  say 
'put  your  hand  into  the  fire,  and  whether  you  feel 
it  or  not,  you  will  be  burnt.  So  to  name  the  name 
of  God  can  bring  nothing  but  good. ' 

The  notion  of  blasphemy  comes  from  the  Jews, 
who  were  impressed  by  the  spectacle  of  Persian 
royalty.  The  ideas  that  God  is  judge  and  punish- 
er  are  not  in  themselves  bad,  but  they  are  low  and 
vulgar.  The  three  angles  of  the  triangle  are  :  Love 
begs  not.  Love  knows  no  fear.  Love  is  always  of 
the  ideal. 

"Who  would  be  able  to  live  one  second, 
Who  would  be  able  to  breathe  one  moment, 
If  the  Loving  one  had  not  filled  this  universe  ?>r 
Most  of  us  will  find  that  we  were   born  for  ser- 
vice. We  must  leave  the   results  to  God.    If  failure 
comes,  there  need    be  no  sorrow.     The  work   was 
done  only  for  God. 

In  women,  the  mother-nature  is  much  develop- 
ed. They  worship  God  as  the  child.  They  ask 
nothing,  and  will  do  anything. 

The  Catholic  Church  teaches  many  of  these 
deep  things,  and  though  it  is  narrow,  it  is  religious 


in  the  highest  sense.  In  modern  society,  Protestant- 
ism is  broad  but  shallow.  To  judge  truth  by  what 
good  it  does,  is  as  bad  as  to  question  the  value  of  a 
scientific  discovery  to  a  baby. 

Society  must  be  outgrown.  We  must  crush  law 
and  become  outlaws.  We  oil  ow  nature,  only  in 
order  to  conquer  her.  Renunciation  means  that 
none  can  serve  God  and  Mammon. 

Deepen  your  own  power  of  thought  and  love. 
Bring  your  own  lotus  to  blossom  :  the  bees  will 
come  of  themselves.  Believe  first  in  yourself, 
then  in  God.  A  handful  of  strong  men  will  move 
the  world.  We  need  a  heart  to  feel ;  a  brain 
to  conceive  ;  and  a  strong  arm  to  do  the  work 
Buddha  gave  himself  for  the  animals.  Make 
yourself  a  fit  agent  to  work.  But  it  is  God  who 
•works,  not  you.  One  man  contains  the  whole 
universe.  One  particle  of  matter  has  all  the 
energy  of  the  Universe  at  its  back.  In  a  conflict 
between  the  heart  and  the  brain  follow  your 

Yesterday,  competition  was   the    law.     To-day, 
co-operation   is   the     law.       To-morrow,    there  is 
no  law.     Let  sages  praise   thee,   or  let   the   world 
blame.     Let   fortune   itself  come,  or  let   poverty 
and  rags  stare  thee  in  the  face.     Eat  the   herbs   of 


the  forest  one  day,  for  food  ;  and  the  next,  share 
a  banquet  of  fifty  courses.  Looking  neither  to  the 
right  hand  nor  to  the  left,  follow  thou  on  ! 


NOVEMBER  23RD,  1895. 

THE  Swami  began  by  telling,  in  anwer  to 
questions,  the  story  of  how  Pavhari  Baba  snatched 
up  his  own  vessels,  and  ran  after  the  thief,  only 
to  fall  at  his  feet  and  say — 

t(  O  Lord,  I  knew  not  that  Thou  wast  there ! 
Take  them  !  They  are  Thine  !  Pardon  me,  Thy 
child  ! " 

Again  he  told  how  the  same  saint  was  bitten  by 
a  cobra,  and  when,  towards  nightfall  he  recovered,  he 
said  "  A  messenger  came  to  me  from  the  Beloved." 

The  greatest  force  is  derived  from  the  power 
of  thought.  The  finer  the  element,  the  mort  power- 
ful. The  silent  power  of  thought  influences 
people,  even  at  a  distance,  because  mind  is  one, 
as  well  as  many.  The  universe  is  a  cobweb  ;  minds 
are  the  spiders. 

The   universe   equals  the   phenomena  of  one 


Universal  Being.  He,  seen  through  our  senses, 
is  the  Universe.  Jesus  or  Buddha  sees  the 
Universe  as  God.  This  is  Maya.  So  the  world 
is  illusion,  that  is,  the  imperfect  vision  of  the 
Real,  a  semi-revelation,  even  as  the  sun  in  the 
morning  is  a  red  ball.  Thus  all  evils  and  wicked- 
ness are  but  weakness,  the  imperfect  Vision  of 

A  straight  line  projected  infinitely  becomes 
a  circle.  The  search  for  God  comes  back  to 
self.  I  am  the  whole  mystery,  God.  I  am  a 
body,  the  lower  self;  and  I  am  the  Lord  of  the 

Why  should  a  man  be  moral  and  pure  ?  Be- 
cause this  strengthens  his  will.  Everything  that 
strengthens  the  will,  by  revealing  the  real  nature,  is 
moral.  Everything  that  does  the  reverse,  is  im- 
moral. The  standard  varies  from  country  to 
country,  and  from  individual  to  individual.  Man 
must  recover  from  his  state  of  slavery  to  laws, 
to  words,  and  so  on.  We  have  no  freedom  of  the 
vill  now,  but  we  shall  have,  when  we  are  free, 
denunciation  is  this  giving  up  of  the  world. 
Ihrough  the  senses,  anger  comes,  and  sorrow 
ccmes.  As  long  as  it  is  not  yet  there,  self  and 
ths  passion  are  different.  At  last  they  become 

identified,  and  the  man  is  an  animal  at  once. 
The  instrument  within  is  infinite.  Become  pos- 
sessed with  the  feeling  of  renunciation. 

I  once  had  a  body,  was  born,  struggled,  and 
-died.  What  awful  hallucinations !  to  think  that 
one  was  cramped  in  a  body,  weeping  for  salva- 
tion ! 

But  does  renunciation  demand  that  we  all 
become  ascetics  ?  Who  then  is  to  help  the  others  ? 
Renunciation  is  not  asceticism.  Are  all  beggars 
Christs?  Poverty  is  not  a  synonym  for  holiness  ; 
often  the  reverse.  Renunciation  is  of  the  mind. 
How  does  it  come  ?  In  a  desert,  when  I  was 
thirsty,  I  saw  a  lake.  It  was  in  the  midst  of  a 
beautiful  landscape.  There  were  trees  surrounding 
it,  and  their  reflections  could  be  seen  in  the 
water,  upside  down.  But  the  whole  thing  proved 
to  be  a  mirage.  Then  I  knew  that  every  day 
for  a  month  I  had  seen  this,  and  only  today, 
being  thirsty,  had  learnt  it  to  be  unreal.  Ever/ 
•day  for  a  month  I  should  see  it  again.  But  I 
should  never  again  take  it  to  be  real.  So,  when 
we  reach  God,  the  idea  of  the  universe,  the  bocy 
.and  so  on,  will  vanish.  It  will  return,  afterwards. 
But  next  time  we  shall  know  it  to  be  unreal. 

The  history   of  the    world   is   the   history  of 


'Buddha  and  Jesus.  The  passionless  and  unattach- 
ed do  most  for  the  world.  Picture  Jesus  in  the 
slums.  He  sees  beyond  the  misery,  "You,  my 
brethren,  are  all  divine."  His  work  is  calm.  He 
.removes  causes.  You  are  only  able  to  work  for 
the  good  of  the  world,  when  you  know  for  a  fact 
that  this  work  is  all  illusion.  The  more  uncons- 
cious this  work,  the  better,  because  the  more  super- 
conscious.  Our  search  is  not  for  good  or  evil ;  but 
happiness  and  good  are  nearer  to  truth  than  their 
opposites.  A  man  ran  a  thorn  into  his  finger,  and 
with  another  thorn  took  it  out.  The  first  thorn  is 
Evil.  The  second  thorn  is  Good.  The  Self  is  that 
.Peace  which  passeth  beyond  both  evil  and  good. 
The  universe  is  melting  down  :  man  draws  nearer 
>to  God.  For  one  moment,  he  is  real — God.  He 
is  re-differentiated — a  prophet.  Before  him,  now,  the 
world  trembles.  A  fool  sleeps,  and  wakes  a  fool. 
A  man,  unconscious  and  super-conscious,  returns 
^with  infinite  power,  purity,  and  love — the  God- 
Man.  This  is  the  use  of  the  super-conscious 

Wisdom  can  be  practised  even  on  a  battle-field. 
The  Gita  was  preached  so.  There  are  three  states 
of  mind  :  the  active,  the  passive,  and  the  serene. 
The  passive  state  is  characterised  by  slow  vibra- 


tions ;  the  active,  by  quick  vibrations,  and 
the  serene  by  the  most  intense  vibrations  of 
all.  Know  that  the  soul  is  sitting  in  the  chariot. 
The  body  is  the  chariot;  the  outer  senses  are  the 
horses  ;  and  the  inner  senses  the  charioteer.  So 
man  crosses  the  ocean  of  Maya.  He  goes  beyond. 
He  reaches  God.  When  a  man  is  under  the  con- 
trol of  his  senses,  he  is  of  this  world.  When  he 
has  controlled  the  senses,  he  has  renounced. 

Even  forgiveness,  if  weak  and  passive,  is  not 
true  :  fight  is  better.  Forgive  when  you  could 
being  legions  of  angels  to  the  victory.  Krishna, 
the  charioteer  of  Arjuna,  hears  it  said,  "The 
general  will  forgive,"  and  answers  "You  speak  the 
words  of  wise  men,  but  you  are  not  a  wise  man, 
but  a  coward."  As  a  lotus-leaf,  living  in  the  water 
yet  untouched  by  it,  so  should  the  soul  be,  in  the 
world.  This  is  a  battle  field,  fight  your  way  out. 
This  world  is  a  poor  attempt  to  see  God.  Make 
your  life  a  manifestation  of  will  strengthened  by 

We  must  learn  to  control  all  our  brain-centres 
consciously.  The  first  step  is  happiness.  Asce- 
ticism is  fiendish.  To  laugh  is  better  than  to 
pray.  Sing.  Get  rid  of  misery.  Don't  for  heaven's 
sake  infect  others  with  it.  Never  think  God  sells- 


a  little  happiness  and  a  little  unhappiness.  Sur- 
round yourself  with  flowers  and  pictures  and  incense. 
The  saints  went  to  the  mountain  tops  to  enjoy 

The  Second  Step  is  Purity. 

The  third  is  full  training  of  the  mind.  eason 
out  what  is  true  from  what  is  untrue.  See  that 
God  alone  is  true.  If  for  a  moment  you  think 
you  are  not  God,  great  terror  will  seize  you.  As 
soon  as  you  think  /  am  He,  great  peace  and  joy 
will  come  to  you.  Control  the  senses.  If  a  man 
curse,  see  in  him  God,  whom  through  my  weak- 
ness I  see  as  curser,  as  tiger,  as  chair.  The 
poor  to  whom  you  do  good,  are  extending  a  privi- 
lege to  you.  He  allows  you,  through  His  mercy, 
to  worship  Him  thus. 

The  history  of  the  world  is  the  history  of  a 
few  men  who  had  faith  in  themselves.  That  faith 
calls  out  the  divinity  within.  You  can  do 
anything.  You  fail,  only  when  you  do  not  strive 
sufficiently  to  manifest  infinite  power.  As  soon  as 
a  man,  or  a  nation,  loses  faith  in  himself,  death 

There  is  a  divine  within,  that  cannot  be  over- 
come, either  by  church  dogmas  or  by  black- 
guardism. A  handful  of  Greeks  speak,  wherever 


there  is  civilisation.  Some  mistakes  there  must 
always  be.  Do  not  grieve.  Have  great  insight. 
Do  not  think  "What  is  done  is  done.  Oh  that 
'twere  done  better  !"  If  man  had  not  been  God, 
humanity  would  by  this  time  have  become  insane, 
with  its  litames  and  its  penitence. 

None  will  be  left,  none  destroyed.  All  will 
in  the  end  be  made  perfect.  Say,  day  and  night, 
'come  up,  my  brothers!  You  are  the  infinite 
Ocean  of  Purity  !  Be  God  !  Manifest  as  God  ! ' 

What  is  civilisation  ?  It  is  the  feeling  of  the 
divine  within.  When  you  find  time,  repeat  these 
ideas  to  yourself,  and  desire  freedom.  That  is  all.. 
Deny  everything  that  is  not  God.  Assert  every- 
thing that  is  God.  Mentally  assert  this,  day  and 
night.  So  the  veil  grows  thinner. 

I  am  neither  man  nor  angel.  I  have  no  sex 
nor  limit.  I  am  knowledge  itself.  I  am  He.  I 
have  neither  anger  nor  hatred.  I  have  neither 
pain  nor  pleasure.  Death  or  birth  I  never  had. 
For  I  am  Knowledge  Absolute,  and  Bliss  Absolute. 
I  am  He,  my  soul,  I  am  He ! 

Find  yourself  bodiless.  You  never  had  a  body. 
It  was  all  superstition.  Give  back  the  divine  cons- 
ciousness to  all  the  poor,  the  down-trodden,  the 
oppressed,  and  the  sick. 


Apparently,  every  five  hundred  years  or  so,  a 
wave  of  this  thought  comes  over  the  world.  Little 
waves  arise,  in  many  directions  :  but  one  swallows 
up  all  the  others,  and  sweeps  over  society.  That 
wave  does  this,  which  has  most  character  at  its  back. 

Confucius,  Moses,  and  Pythagoras  ;  Buddhar 
Christ,  Mahomet  ;  Luther,  Calvin,  and  the  Sikhs  ; 
Theosophy,  Spiritualism,  and  the  like ;  all  these 
mean  only  the  preaching  of  the  Divine-in- Man. 

Never  say  man  is  weak.  Wisdom-Yoga  is  no- 
better  than  the  others.  Love  is  the  ideal,  and 
requires  no  object.  Love  is  God.  So  even  through 
devotion  we  reach  the  subjective  God.  I  am  He  f 
How  can  one  work,  unless  one  loves,  city,  country, 
animals,  the  universe?  Reason  leads  to  the  find- 
ing of  unity  in  variety.  Let  the  atheist  and  the 
agnostic  work  for  the  social  good.  So  God  comes. 

But  this  you  must  guard.  Do  not  disturb  the 
faith  of  any.  For  you  must  know  that  religion 
is  not  in  doctrines.  Religion  lies  in  being  and  be- 
coming, in  realisation.  All  men  are  born  idolators. 
The  lowest  man  is  an  animal.  The  highest  man 
is  perfect.  And  between  these  two,  all  have  to 
think  in  sound  and  colour,  in  doctrine  and  ritual. 

The  test  of  having  ceased  to  be  an  idolater  is, 
'When  you  say  '  /',  does  the  body  come  into  your 


thought,  or  not  ?  If  it  does,  then  you  are  still  a 
worshipper  of  idols.  Religion  is  not  intellectual 
jargon  at  all,  but  realisation.  If  you  think  about 
God,  you  are  only  a  fool.  The  ignorant  man,  by 
prayer  and  devotion,  can  reach  beyond  the  philo- 
sopher. To  know  God,  no  philosophy  is  necessary. 
Our  duty  is  not  to  disturb  the  faith  of  others. 
Religion  is  experience.  Above  all  and  in  all,  be 
sincere.  Identification  brings  misery,  because  it 
brings  desire.  Thus  the  poor  man  sees  gold,  and 
identifies  himself  with  the  need  of  gold.  Be  the 
witness.  Learn  never  to  react. 

In  answer  to  *  question  :  The  artist  is  the  wit- 
ness who  testifies  of  the  beautiful.  Art  is  the 
most  unselfish  form  of  happiness  in  the  world. 




The  different  sectarian  systems  of  India  alt 
radiate  from  one  central  idea  of  Unity  or  Dualism. 

They  are  all  under  Vedanta,  all  interpreted 
by  it.  Their  final  essence  is  the  teaching  of  Unity. 
This,  which  we  see  as  many,  is  God.  We  perceive 
matter,  the  world,  manifold  sensation.  Yet  is 
there  but  one  existence. 

These  various  names  mark  only  differences  of 
degree  in  the  expression  of  that  One.  The  worm 
of  to-day  is  the  God  of  to-morrow.  These  dis- 
tinctions which  we  so  love  are  all  parts  of  one 
infinite  fact,  and  only  differ  in  the  degree  of 
expression.  That  one  infinite  fact  is  the  attain- 
ment of  Freedom. 

However  mistaken  we  may  be,  as  to  the  method,, 
all  our  struggle  is  really  for  Freedom.  We  seek 
neither  misery  nor  happiness,  but  Freedom.  This. 


one  aim  is  the  secret  of  the  insatiable  thirst  of 
man.  Man's  thirst,  says  the  Hindu,  man's  thirst, 
says  the  Buddhist,  is  a  burning,  unquenchable  thirst, 
for  more  and  more.  You  Americans  are  always 
looking  for  more  pleasure,  more  enjoyment.  You 
cannot  be  satisfied.  True,  but  at  bottom  what 
you  seek  is  Freedom. 

This  vastness  of  his  desire  is  really  the  sign 
of  man's  own  infinitude.  It  is  because  he  is 
is  infinite,  that  he  can  only  be  satisfied,  when 
his  desire  is  infinite,  and  its  fulfilment  infinite. 

What  then  can  satisfy  man  ?  Not  gold.  Not 
joy.  Not  beauty.  One  Infinite  alone  can  satisfy 
him,  and  that  infinite  is  Himself.  When  he  realises 
this,  then  alone  comes  Freedom. 

"This  flute,  with  the  sense-organs  as  its  key-holes, 
With  all  its  sensations,  perceptions,  and  song, 
Is   singing   only   one   thing.     It   longs   to   go 

back  to  the  wood  whence  it  was  cut ! " 
"  Deliver  thou  thyself  by  thyself ! 
Ah,  do  not  let  thyself  sink  ! 
For  thou  art  thyself  thy  greatest  friend. 
And  thou  thyself  thy  greatest  enemy. 
Who  can  help  the  Infinite  ?     Even  the  hand  that 
comes  to  you  through  the  darkness  will  have  to  be 
your  own. 


Fear  and  desire  are  the  two  causes  of  all  this, 
and  who  creates  them  ?  We  ourselves.  Our  lives 
are  but  a  passing  from  dream  to  dream.  Man. 
the  infinite  dreamer,  dreaming  finite  dreams  ! 

Oh  the  blessedness  of  it,  that  nothing  external 
can  be  eternal !  They  little  know  what  they 
mean,  whose  hearts  quake  when  they  hear  that 
nothing  in  this  relative  world  can  be  eternal. 

I  am  the  infinite  blue  sky.  Over  me  pass  these 
clouds  of  various  colours,  remain  a  moment,  and 
vanish.  I  am  the  same  eternal  blue.  I  am  the 
witness,  the  same  eternal  witness,  of  all.  I  see,, 
therefore  nature  exists.  I  do  not  see,  therefore 
she  does  not.  Not  one  of  us  could  see  or  speak,, 
if  this  infinite  unity  were  broken  for  a  moment. 



A  locomotive,  with  all  its  powers,  is  only  a 
machine ;  and  a  little  worm  is  a  living  being. 
What  is  it  that  makes  us  differentiate,  between  the 
living  and  the  dead  ? 

All  over  the  world  is  worship, — of  ghosts,  of 
serpents,  trees,  gods.  The  whole  world  expects  a 
miracle.  We  are  all  running  after  the  curious,  the 

We  dismiss  this  as  ignorance,  but  the  fact 
remains.  I  believe  nothing  to  be  vain  or  meaning- 
less. The  Jews  were  not  singular :  the  whole 
world  asks  for  a  sign.  Then  there  is  this  universal 
dissatisfaction.  We  work  for  an  object,  or  an  ideal, 
and  before  we  reach  it,  our  desire  has  changed.  Man 
is  a  born  rebel  against  nature,  and  nature's  laws. 

The  first  act  of  our  life  is  one  of  rebellion 
against  life.  The  earth,  moon,  and  stars,  tremend- 
ous as  they  are,  are  but  machines.  Life,  from  its 
first  twinkling  to  its  highest  growth,  is  above  all 
these.  'Freedom,  oh  Freedom  !'  is  the  cry  of  life. 
^Freedom,  oh  Freedom !'  is  the  song  of  the  soul. 
All  worship,  all  desire  for  miracles,  is,  at  bottom, 
this  thirst  for  Freedom.  Science  on  her  countless 
watch-towers  signals  back  to  the  asking  soul,  'No, 
not  yet !  Nature  has  no  freedom.  She  is  all  law.' 


This  is  why  the  idea  of  God  is  essential  to  the 
Mind.  There  must  be  the  concept  of  some  being 
or  beings  with  Freedom. 

Religion  thus  becomes  only  a  question  of  the 
materialisation  or  personification  of  the  idea. 
Even  a  plant  could  not  be,  without  this  notion  of 
Freedom.  Embodied  Freedom,  the  Master  of 
Nature,  is  what  we  call  God. 

Which  of  you  would  come  or  go  or  eat,  if  you 
did  not  believe  yourself  FREE  to  do  or  not  to  do  ? 
This  may  be  a  false  notion,  yet  it  shows  the  con- 
ception, and  this  is  as  much  a  fact  as  the  bondage 
itself.  Freedom  must  bring  the  mastery  of  nature. 
•Omnipotence,  Omniscience,  and  Freedom  must  go 
hand  in  hand,  and  must  be  beyond  nature.  All 
its  dust  and  mire  leaves  Him  unstained.  In  us, 
every  little  thing  produces  change.  Not  so  in 
Him  !  So  SATCHITANANDA  alone  describes  Him. 

"He  is  the  Ruler  of  this  universe.  Him  the 
sun  cannot  illumine,  nor  the  moon,  nor  the  stars. 
The  flash  of  the  lightning  cannot  irradiate  Him. 
How  then  speak  of  this  mortal  fire  ?" 

He  depends  upon  Himself  alone.  All  move- 
ment is  His  Worship.  No  action,  no  movement, 
no  throb  in  the  universe,  but  goes  towards  Him. 
Not  only  all  that  we  call  good,  but  evil  also,  is 


from    the    Lord.     "I  am    the    Real  :     I  am    the 

Unreal."  He  who  gave  us  life,  He  is  pouring  out 
of  His  vial,  the  direst  death.  'He  whose  shadow 
is  death,  whose  shadow  is  immortality  !'  We  may 
bury  our  heads  in  the  sand,  like  the  ostrich.  But 
there  is  no  escape  that  way  !  Once,  in  (Benares, 
I  was  pursued  by  troops  of  monkeys,  and  I  turned 
to  flee,  when  suddenly  I  heard  the  voice  of  an  old 
sannyasin  behind  me  call  out  "Stop!  Always 
face  the  brute  !"  So,  face  nature.  Face  ignorance. 
Face  illusion.  Never  fly.  You  remember  the 
story  of  the  king  who  saw  the  vision  of  an  enchant- 
ed palace,  but  he  spat  upon  the  ground,  and  all 
vanished  ? 

Your  own  child  comes  to  you  masked.  A 
moment  of  terror,  and  then — It  is  the  Lord  !  The 
world  has  been  ever  preaching  the  God  of  virtue. 
I  preach  to  you  a  God  of  virtue  and  of  sin.  No 
more  looking  up  and  down  at  each  other  !  The 
less  differentiation,  the  sooner  God.  This  is  the 
one  sin,  differentiation.  This  is  the  door  to  hell, 
differentiation.  Only  when  this  is  broken,  when  it 
is  pulverised  to  atoms,  can  we  attain  the 
Can  we,  or  can  we  not,  see  God  in  all  equally  ? 

"Thou  art  the  man,  Thou  art  the  woman  ! 

Thou  art  the  youth,  in  the  pride  of  his  youth, 


And  thou  the  old  man  tottering  on  his  crutches. 

Thou  the  sinner,  thou  the  saint !" 

Two  birds  of  golden  plumage  sat  on  the  same 

"tree.     One  above,  and  one  below.     The  lower  bird 

was  pecking  at  the  berries,  some  sweet,  some  bitter, 

at  last  he  ate  one  most  bitter,  and  looking  up,  saw 

his  fellow,  calm,   majestic,   immersed   in  his    own 

glory.     Then  he  drew   nearer  and  nearer,  till   the 

rays  of  light  from  the   plumage  of  the  upper  bird 

fell  on  himself ;  drew  nearer,  till  he  found  that  the 

upper  bird  was  all.     He,  the  lower,  had  been  only 

a  reflection  seen  amongst  the  branches. 

The  man  who  is  groping  his  way  through  sin 
and  misery,  the  man  who  has  chosen  for  himself 
the  path  that  runs  through  hell,  will  also  reach. 
But  we  may  choose  for  ourselves  the  path  that 
runs  through  heaven,  the  path  of  unselfishness,  of 
purity,  of  love,  and  virtue.  Let  us  come  conscious- 
ly, by  seeing  all  beings  as  identified  with  ourselves. 
We  want  to  move  consciously.  Let  us  be  rid, 
then,  of  all  these  limited  ideas,  and  see  Him,  the 
Ever-Present  Self,  evident,  nearer  to  us  than  our 
own  selves  !  This  has  to  be  felt.  This  has  to  be 

May  it  please  the  Lord  to  grant  us  soon  this 
'knowledge  of  ourselves  as  one  with  the  universe. 


This  is  the  highest  development  of  humility. 

"Sharp  as  the  blade  of  a  razor,  long,  and  distant, 
and  the  way  so  hard  to  find  ! 

So  the  sages  have  declared. 

Yet  do  not  despond  !     Awake  !     Arise  ! 

Struggle  on  !  and  stop  not,  till  the  goal  is 
reached  !" 

"Giving  up  all  these  paths  and  struggles  do 
thou  take  refuge  in  Me  !  I  will  take  thee  unto 
the  other  shore.  Be  not  afraid  !  Be  not  afraid  !" 
Say  all  the  scriptures  of  the  world. 

Either  say  :  'I  am  thou,  O  Lord  !'  thus  killing 
the  lower  /;  or,  'I  am  nothing.  Thou  art  all. 
Thy  will  be  done  on  earth  !'  This  last  is  a  little 
easier.  But  we  slip,  and  we  stretchout  the  hand  to 
the  Mother  !  It  has  all  been  done.  Well  said  an 
Indian  philosopher,  "who  says,  Thy  will  be 
done  !'  twice,  commits  a  sin."  Manu  says  salva- 
tion is  for  all,  save  only  for  a  traitor.  We  all  stand 
condemned  as  traitors,  traitors  against  our  own 
selves,  against  the  majesty  of  Mother. 

"For  Thine  is  the  Kingdom  and  the  power 
the  glory  !     For  ever  and  ever  !" 



AFTERNOON  IN  JUNE,    igoo. 

From  the  tribal  or  clan- God,  man  arrives,  in 
every  religion,  at  the  sum,  the  God  of  gods. 

Confucius  alone  has  expressed  the  one  eternal 
idea  of  Ethics.  '  Manu  Deva '  was  transformed 
into  Ahriman.  In  India,  the  mythological  ex- 
pression was  suppressed,  but  the  idea  remained. 
In  an  old  Veda  is  found  the  Mantram  "  I  am 
the  Empress  of  all  that  lives,  the  Power  in 

Mother-Worship  is  a  distinct  philosophy  in 
itself.  Power  is  the  first  of  our  ideas.  It  impinges 
upon  man,  at  every  step.  Power  felt  within,  is  the 
soul ;  without,  nature.  And  the  battle  between 
the  two  makes  human  life.  All  that  we  know  or 
feel  is  but  the  resultant  of  these  two  forces.  Man 
saw  that  the  sun  shines  on  the  good  and  the  evil 
^alike.  Here  was  a  new  idea  of  God,  as  the 
Universal  Power  behind  all.  The  Mother-idea  was 


Activity,  according  to  Sankhya,  belongs  to 
Prakriti,  to  nature,  not  to  Purusha,  or  soul.  Of 
all  feminine  types,  in  India,  the  mother  is  pre- 
eminent. The  mother  stands  by  her  child  through 
everything.  Wife  and  children  may  desert  a  man,, 
but  his  mother,  never !  Mother,  again,  is  the 
impartial  energy  of  the  Universe,  because  of  the 
colourless  love,  that  asks  not,  desires  not,  cares  not 
for  the  evil  in  her  child,  but  loves  him  the  more. 
And  to-day  Mother-Worship  is  the  worship  of  all 
the  highest  classes  amongst  the  Hindus. 

The  goal  can  only  be  described  as  something 
not  yet  attained.  Here,  there  is  no  goal.  This 
world  is  all  alike  the  play  of  Mother.  But  we 
forget  this.  Even  misery  can  be  enjoyed,  when 
there  is  no  selfishness,  when  we  have  become  the 
witness  of  our  own  lives.  The  thinker  of  this 
philosophy  has  been  struck  by  the  idea  that  one 
power  is  behind  all  phenomena.  In  our  thought 
of  God,  there  is  human  limitation,  personality : 
with  Sakti  comes  the  idea  of  One  Universal  Power. 
"  I  stretch  the  bow  of  Rudra,  when  He  desires  to 
kill,"  says  Sakti.  The  Upanishads  did  not  de- 
velope  this  thought;  for  Vedanta  does  not  care 
for  the  God-idea.  But  in  the  Gita  comes  the 
significant  saying,  to  Arjuna,  "I  am  the  Real,, 


and  I  am  the  Unreal.     I  bring  good,  and    I   bring: 

Again  the  idea  slept.  Later  came  the  new 
philosophy.  This  universe  is  a  composite  fact,  of 
good  and  evil  ;  and  one  Power  must  be  manifesting 
through  both.  "  A  lame  one-legged  universe 
makes  only  a  lame  one-legged  God."  And  this,, 
in  the  end,  lands  us  in  want  of  sympathy,  and 
makes  us  brutal.  The  ethic  built  on  such  a  concept 
is  an  ethic  of  brutality.  The  saint  hates  the  sinner^ 
and  the  sinner  struggles  against  the  saint.  Yet 
even  this  leads  onward.  For  finally,  the  wicked 
self-sufficient  mind  will  die,  crushed  under  repeated 
bows,  and  then  we  shall  awake  and  know 
the  Mother. 

Eternal,  unquestioning  self-surrender  to  Mother 
alone  can  give  us  peace.  Love  Her  for  Herself^ 
without  fear  or  favour.  Love  Her  because  you  are 
Her  child.  See  Her  in  all,  good  and  bad  alike. 
Then  alone  will  come  "  Sameness",  the  Bliss 
Eternal  that  is  Mother  Herself,  when  we  realise 
Her  thus.  Until  then,  misery  will  pursue  us*. 
Only  resting  in  Mother  are  we  safe. 



And  other  lectures  and  writings,  may  be 
-ordered  through  the  Udbodhan  Office,  Gopal 
Chunder  Neogi's  Lane,  Bagh  Bazar,  Calcutta; 
or  through  the  Office  of  the  Prabuddha 
Bharata,  Mayavati,  Lohaghat  Post  Office, 
via  Almora,  U.  P.  ;  or  through  the  Office 
-of  the  Brahmavadin,  Triplicane,  Madras. 


THE  WEB  OF  INDIAN  LIFE  : — Published  by 
Messrs.  Heineman  &  Co.  London  ;  and 
Henry  Holt  &  Sons,  New  York. 

CRADLE  TALES  OF  HINDUISM  : — Published  by 
Messrs.  Longmans  Green  &  Co.  Cheap 
Edition  for  Circulation  in  India. 

KALI  THE  MOTHER  : — Published  by  Messrs. 
Swan  Sonnenschein  &  Co. 

LOVE  AND    DEATH  : — Published  by  Messrs. 
Longmans  Green  &  Co. 
All  these  may  be  obtained  through  the 

office  of  the  Udbodhan,  Prabuddha  Bharatay 

or  Brahmavadin. 


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